KABUL (AFP) – Al-Qaeda said its number three leader and Osama bin Laden’s one-time treasurer Mustafa Abu al-Yazid has been killed along with close relatives, in what would be a major blow to the global terror network.
US monitoring groups said the death of Yazid, who was the leader of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and its liaison with the Taliban for three years, was announced by the group in a message to jihadist websites on Monday.
“We have strong reason to believe that’s true, and that (Yazid) was killed recently in Pakistan’s tribal areas,” a US official said. “In terms of counterterrorism, this would be a big victory.”
Yazid, one of a number of Egyptians in the higher echelons of Al-Qaeda, was a founding member of the network and once top money man to bin Laden who was accused of channelling money to some of the September 11 hijackers.
Yazid, also known as Sheikh Said al-Masri, would be one of the highest profile Al-Qaeda leaders killed since US President Barack Obama took office.
“Al-Masri was the group's chief operating officer, with a hand in everything from finances to operational planning,” the US official said.
“He was also the organisation’s prime conduit to bin Laden and (Al-Qaeda number two Ayman) Zawahiri,” he said. “He was key to Al-Qaeda’s command and control.”