London, Asharq Al-Awsat – A US official said that he believes that Al Qaeda’s No 3 Sheikh Said al-Masri who was also known as Mustafa Abu al-Yazid was killed recently in a missile attack in the Pakistani tribal region. Abu al-Yazid’s responsibilities reportedly stretched from operational command to fund-raising.
Al Qaeda also released an obituary of Abu al-Yazid, who died aged 56, on the internet, describing him as being one of the most prominent jihadists of the past 22 years. The Al Qaeda statement did not include any information about the attack which ended al-Yazid’s life, and which members of his family were also reportedly killed in, but it did indicate that other men, women, and children, died in this attack. The CIA has stepped up the number of attacks by unmanned drones recently, targeting the upper echelons of Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
The Islamic Observatory, a human rights organization based in London that is concerned with the news of Islamic fundamentalists across the globe, clarified that “Abu al-Yazid is from the Ash Sharqiya governorate of Egypt and was born in 1955, he graduated with a BA in Commerce from the University of Zagazig, and he became famous as Sheikh Said the accountant, and he was extremely professional and concerned with unity.”
Yasser al-Sirri, the head of the London-based Islamic Observatory, also told Asharq Al-Awsat that Abu al-Yazid was wanted by Egyptian security services, and that he was well known for his professionalism, which is something that allowed him to gain the trust of Osama Bin Laden. Al-Sirri claims that Abu al-Yazid ran a number of Bin Laden’s businesses and companies in Sudan.
Al-Sirri also revealed that Abu al-Yazid first went to Afghanistan in 1988, although he was not part of any jihadist movement at that time. Al-Sirri also indicated that Abu al-Yazid, who was known as “Sheikh Said” at the time, was a member of Al Qaeda’s Shura Council for years before assuming the most senior position in Afghanistan.
Al-Sirri, who was sentenced in absentia to the death penalty and life imprisonment in Egypt, also told Asharq Al-Awsat that al-Yazid was number 15 on a list of 27 individuals and organizations whose assets were frozen by the US in 2002 due to allegations of sponsoring terrorism.
Al-Sirri also confirmed that Mustafa Abu al-Yazid was an alias of Sheikh Said al-Masri, who was responsible for funding the 9/11 attacks. Abu al-Yazid, or Sheikh Said, is known to have travelled to Qatar and then Dubai as part of his operations to finance the 9/11 attacks.
According to the FBI, Abu al-Yazid was responsible for transferring funds via Dubai to Mohamed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi and Wail al-Shehri, three of the 9/11 hijackers.
For his part, Dr. Hani al-Sibai, the Director of the London-based Maqrizi Center for Historical Studies told Asharq Al-Awsat that Abu al-Yazid’s successor is expected to be announced in the coming days. He said that Al Qaeda deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, or even Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden himself, is expected to issue a statement eulogizing about Abu al-Yazid in the coming period.
Dr. al-Sibai said that Abu al-Yazid was with Bin Laden when the Sudanese government forced the Afghan Arabs, the Jihadist leadership and their families to leave Khartoum and return to Afghanistan once again. It was at this time that the Al Qaeda organization first met mujahedeen commanders such as Mohammed Yunus Khalis and Jalal al-Din Haqqani and others, as well as the Taliban leadership, and they were made welcome and well-received in Afghanistan.
Egyptian Islamist Dr. al-Sibai also told Asharq Al-Awsat that Abu al-Yazid, his eldest daughter Shaymaa, and another of his daughters named Jihad, who is married to the son of Omar Abdel-Rahman, the spiritual leader of the al-Gamaa al-Islamiyya and who is currently imprisoned in the US. His son, Mohamed, was arrested in Afghanistan after the US invasion of 2001, and he was handed over the Americans and held in Guantanamo Bay for a number of years, before recently being released into the custody of the Egyptian authorities where he is currently being held in Tora prison.
Dr. al-Sibai also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “despite the fact that Abu al-Yazid was the commander in chief of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, he was also pledged to Taliban leader Mullah Omar, and he had strong alliances and close relations with the Taliban leadership.”
Dr. al-Sibai also revealed that “Abu al-Yazid was married to the widow of Adil Awad Siyam who was also known as Abu al-Nadr. Al-Zawahiri was very close to him and nicknamed him “the ghost” because of how he confounded the authorities…he was killed in an ambush in the Egyptian governorate of Giza in 1994.”