Al Qaeda [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] operative Fazul Abdullah Mohammed [BBC profile] was killed last week by security forces at a checkpoint in Somalia. Mohammed was on the FBI Most Wanted Terrorists Lists [materials] for his involvement in the 1998 US Embassy bombings [PBS backgrounder; JURIST news archive] in Kenya and Tanzania. The FBI confirmed his identity through a fingerprint analysis. Mohammed, who was one of al Qaeda's key operative in East Africa, was killed by police during a shootout in Somalia's capital. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the death of Mohammed was a significant blow [BBC report] to al Qaeda.
The 1998 Embassy bombings killed more than 200 people including 12 Americans, and Mohammed has been a fugitive ever since then. Before the Embassy bombings, Mohammed trained militants in Somalia and later planned attacks against Israeli tourists in Kenya. There was a $5 million reward for Mohammed, who was the most sought after individual in Africa. Mohammed was believed to be working with the militant group, Al-Shabab [Economist backgrounder] which controls a large portion of southern Somalia. In 2007, Mohammed was the target of two US air strikes in Somalia [JURIST report], but the State Department believed he was being protected by the Council of Islamic Courts. In May, US President Barack Obama [official profile] announced [JURIST report] that a small team of US military personnel had killed al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden [WP obituary; JURIST news archive]. Bin Laden had topped the US list of Most Wanted Terrorists [materials] and is believed to have approved or helped plan many notorious terror attacks including those against New York and Washington DC on September 11, 2001, the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole [JURIST news archives], the attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.