Al-Qaida announced Monday that its No. 3 official, Mustafa al-Yazid, had been killed along with members of his family — perhaps one of the most severe blows to the terror movement since the U.S. campaign against al-Qaida began. A U.S. official said al-Yazid was believed to have died in a U.S. missile strike.
A statement posted on an al-Qaida Website said al-Yazid, which it described as the organization’s top commander in Afghanistan, was killed along with his wife, three daughters, a grandchild and other men, women and children but did not say how or where.
The statement did not give an exact date for al-Yazid’s death, but it was dated by the Islamic calendar month of “Jemadi al-Akhar,” which falls in May.
A U.S. official in Washington said word was “spreading in extremist circles” of his death in Pakistan’s tribal areas in the past two weeks.
His death would be a major blow to al-Qaida, which in December “lost both its internal and external operations chiefs,” the official said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.
The Egyptian-born al-Yazid, also known as Sheik Saeed al-Masri, was a founding member of al-Qaida and the group’s prime conduit to Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri. He was key to day-to-day control, with a hand in everything from finances to operational planning, the U.S. official said.
Al-Yazid has been reported killed before, in 2008, but this is the first time his death has been acknowledged by the militant group on the Internet.