Abu Khayr al-Masri

Ahmad Hasan Abu al-Khayr al-Masrr
Born Abdullah Muhammad Rajab Abd al-Rahman
(1957-11-03)3 November 1957
Kafr el-Sheikh, Egypt
Died 26 February 2017(2017-02-26) (aged 59)[1]
Al-Mastumah, Idlib Governorate, Syria[2]
Nationality Egyptian
Occupation Deputy leader of al-Qaeda

Abdullah Muhammad Rajab Abd al-Rahman (Arabic: عبد الله محمد رجب عبد الرحمن), known as Ahmad Hasan Abu al-Khayr al-Masri (Arabic: أحمد حسن أبو الخير المصري), (3 November 1957 – 26 February 2017) was an Egyptian al-Qaeda leader who has been described as the general deputy to al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.[3][4][5]


Al-Masri was a member of Egyptian Islamic Jihad alongside Ayman al-Zawahiri and fled the country in the mid-1980s along with many other Islamic militants. He joined the mujahideen in the Bosnian War (1992–1995).[6] He was sentenced to death in Egypt, in absentia, in 1998, in the case of the Returnees from Albania, for allegedly being responsible of a series of terror attacks in Egyptian towns during the 1990s.[7]

He headed al-Qaeda's political committee and was a member of the Shura Council. He has been described as operating as a "trusted lieutenant" of the leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri with whom al-Masri worked in Sudan and Afghanistan.[6]

Arrested in Iran

He left Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks and prior to the United States invasion of Afghanistan. He fled to Iran, where he was arrested in Sistan and Baluchestan Province in April 2003.[8] Also arrested alongside him were other senior al-Qaeda leaders including Saif al-Adel, Abu Mohammed al-Masri and Sulayman Abu Ghayth. According to a statement that Sulayman Abu Ghayth gave to the Federal Bureau of Investigation four al-Qaeda leaders were first jailed in an Iranian intelligence building in Tehran for approximately one year and eight months.[9]

Release by Iran

In September 2015 it was reported that Abu Khayr al-Masri was released by Iran in March 2015 together with other al-Qaeda leaders including Saif al-Adel and Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah[10] in a prisoner exchange. He was reported to have then traveled to Syria with three men to join the Al-Nusra Front branch of al-Qaeda.[6]


On 28 July 2016, the Al-Minaret al-Bayda media wing of the Syrian al-Qaeda branch Jabhat al-Nusra released an audio message from him claiming that the Nusra front had cut all connections with al-Qaeda and renamed it the Fateh al-Sham Front.[6]


Reports surfaced on 26 February 2017 that al-Masri had been killed in a U.S. drone strike on his car in Al-Mastumah in the Syrian province of Idlib.[11] There was no immediate official confirmation from either the United States or al-Qaeda.[6][12] However, The Guardian journalists Tom McCarthy and Martin Chulov later reported that jihadist leaders confirmed that al-Masri was in fact killed in the drone strike.[13] The US airstrike also killed another Tahrir al-Sham militant traveling in the same car.[2][1] A US intelligence official as well as al-Qaeda later confirmed that he had been killed in the strike.[14][15][16]


  1. 1 2 Deputy al Qaeda leader killed In Syria
  2. 1 2 2 Tahrir al-Sham fighters killed by US-led coalition drone near Idlib
  3. "Treasury Designates Seven Al Qaida Associates". Treasury.gov. Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  4. Rohan Gunaratna and Aviv Oreg, The Global Jihad Movement (London 2015) p 72
  5. Rohan Gunaratna and Aviv Oreg, The Global Jihad Movement (London 2015) p 63
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 Spencer, Richard (2017-02-27). "Al-Qaida's deputy leader 'killed in drone strike'". The Times. Retrieved 2017-02-27. (Subscription required (help)).
  7. http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2017/03/zawahiris-deputy-sought-to-unify-syrian-rebels.php
  8. "Al Qaeda's Organizational Structure and its Evolution | Aviv Oreg". Academia.edu. 1 January 1970. doi:10.1080/1057610X.2010.523860. Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  9. Sulayman Abu Ghayth (1 March 2013). "File 415A-NY-307616" (PDF). Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  10. Rukmini Callimachi; Eric Schmitt (17 September 2015). "Iran Released Top Members of Al Qaeda in a Trade". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  11. "Al-Qaeda's deputy leader 'killed in Syria'". Sky News Australia. 2017-02-27. Retrieved 2017-02-27.
  12. "Syria al-Qaeda leader 'targeted in strike on car'". BBC. 27 February 2017.
  13. Chulov, Martin; McCarthy, Tom (27 February 2017). "US drone strike in Syria kills top al-Qaida leader, jihadis say".
  14. "Osama's Son-in-Law Killed by CIA Drone Strike: US Official". Reuters. News18. 2 March 2017. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  15. Ellen Francis (2 March 2017). "Al Qaeda confirms leader killed by drone strike in Syria". Reuters. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  16. http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2017/03/al-qaeda-eulogizes-egyptian-leader-killed-in-idlib-syria.php
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