by Florian Flade
One of the most-wanted al-Qaida figures was allegedly killed in Somalia on Wednesday. Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, a terrorist commander born in the Comoros Islands in 1974 , was a al-Qaida veteran who joined the organization in the 1990s after traveling to Pakistan. He was trained at an al-Qaida camp in Afghanistan and was allegedly sent to Somalia in 1993 where he took part in the famous incident known as „Black Hawk Down“ in which two US military helicopters were shot down in Mogadishu and 18 US troops were killed.
Fazul Abdullah Mohammed is thought to be a mastermind of the 1998 US Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania as well as a suicide bombing on a luxury hotel complex in Mombasa (Kenya) in 2002. The US placed a bounty of US$ 5 Million on the terrorist whom the counter-terrorism officials say speaks five languages including French and English.
Since 2006 the US has been hunting Abdullah Mohammed as a main al-Qaida target in East Africa. In January 2007 a US airstrike on a al-Qaida training camp in Somalia failed to kill him. Back then, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed had joined the Islamic Courts, a militant group that later became Al-Shabaab. Allegedly Mohammed established several training camps in Southern Somalia and was bringing foreign fighters into the country.
When in November 2009 US special forces carried out a raid in Somalia and killed al-Qaida´s East-Africa leader Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed was chosen as his successor by the al-Qaida leadership in Pakistan. „I will honestly perform my duties following my appointment to this new big position by Sheikh Osama bin Laden“, the new al-Qaida East-Africa commander said in speech that was recorded as an audio message.
According to intelligence reports, Mohammed was suspected of traveling in and out of Somalia. He holds a Kenyan passport which led those hunting him believe he would occasionally slip into neighboring Kenya.
On Wednesday last week Somali government troops opened fire on a „Toyota Surf“ SUV heading towards a checkpoint in Somalia´s capital Mogadishu. Two terrorists were killed. The soldiers searched their bodies. One of the two militants carried a South African passport bearing the name „Daniel Robinson“. It was issued in April 2009 and showed that the man had entered Tanzania March 19 and was granted visa there. Additionally US$ 40,000 in cash found in the car.
Initially Somali media reported a Canadian national had been killed by government troops in a firefight. A Al-Shabaab fighter named „Abdurrahman al-Kanadi“ was tought to be the one who was shot dead.
Today Kenyan newspaper The Daily Nation quoted Somali security sources as saying Fazul Abdullah Mohammed was one of the terrorists killed in Mogadishu on Wednesday. Kenya Television Network (KTN) claimed police chief Matthew Iteere confirmed Mohammed´s death.
The US State Department would not comment on the reports coming out of Somalia. Pictures published by Radio Mogadisho of the terrorist´s car and one dead body seem to indicate that it was indeed Fazul Abdullah Mohammed who has been killed.