Al Qaida's most senior operative in Africa has been confirmed as killed in Somalia, in what is another blow to the terrorist group following a constant flow of senior members falling since Osama bin Laden's death last month.
Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, who is believed to have been the brains behind the 1998 attacks on U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, was killed in Mogadishu Tuesday, although he was not initially identified.
The 1998 embassy attacks resulted in the killing of 224 people, including 12 American citizens, and more than 5,000 others were injured.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and White House counter-terrorism chief John Brennan, have already commented on the significance of the killing of Mohammed, as one of al Qaida's most important operatives.
Mohammed is known to have been a vital cog in al-Qaida's networking in Africa, and has played a central role in recruiting other extremist groups, such as Shabab in Somalia, to the al-Qaida cause.
Mohammed was not initially identified when he was killed by Somali security forces on Tuesday during a shoot-out. It has taken until Saturday to get a full identification, and upon hearing the news U.S. Counter-terrorism chief Brennan reported that this proved a “huge setback” for the al-Qaida network.
Clinton added, “It is a just end for a terrorist who brought so much death and pain to so many innocents."
Mohammed was such a key figure for al-Qaida that the U.S. State department had offered a $5m reward for any information leading them to the fugitive.
Somalia's transitional government and its security forces were quickly praised by White House officials for their work in putting a stop to Mohammed's reign of terror.
Commentators are reporting that al-Qaida will be hard-pressed to find a replacement with Mohammed's skills, competence and experience.