Al Qaeda’s Fazul Abdullah Mohammed killed
Man who planned US embassy bombings in East Africa dies in Somalia
Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, the al-Qaeda commander wanted by America for allegedly planning the bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, has been shot dead at a checkpoint near Mogadishu in Somalia.
Fazul's death was hailed today by US secretary of state Hillary Clinton as a "significant blow" to al-Qaeda and its allies. She added that it was "a just end for a terrorist who brought so much death and pain to so many innocents".
Two hundred and twenty-three people are thought to have died in the 1998 attacks, with scores more injured. A woman who lost her husband in the Nairobi blast, Lucy Anyango Aringo, told Kenya's Daily Nation yesterday: "The death of Fazul Abdullah Mohammed gives peace to my soul.
"Although his death may be painful to someone close to him, to me it provides a closure of sorts."
Fazul was remembered by the Nation as a "master of disguise" who frequently changed his appearance as he hid in plain sight, on the run for nine years after a failed attempt to shoot down an Israeli passenger plane in 2002.
The 38-year-old died after he and an associate took a wrong turning and found themselves at a checkpoint manned by fighters from Somalia's nominal government, which controls very little of the country.
A Somali source claimed Fazul was carrying £25,000 in cash and a South African passport in the name of Daniel Robinson. His associate was a known Kenyan jihadist, Mohammed Dere.
A US official in Washington said the killing removed one of the "most experienced operational planners in East Africa and has almost certainly set back operations" for the terrorists.
Not every expert agreed that his death was a significant setback for al-Qaeda, however. J Peter Pham, director of the Michael S Ansari Africa Center at the Atlantic Council, told the South African Sunday Times that his death would have little impact on the group's operations.