Security officials in Mogadishu said that Fazul Abdullah Mohammed and another man were shot to death by members of the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) on Wednesday at a roadblock in the capitol city.
Our forces fired on two men who refused to stop at a roadblock. They tried to defend themselves when they were surrounded by our men, TFG commander Abdikarim Yusuf told Agence France Presse.
We took their ID documents, one of which was a foreign passport.”
Somali officials also told AFP that Abdullah was carrying $40,000 in cash as well as a South African passport bearing the name “Daniel Robinson.”
The passport indicated that Abdullah departed South Africa on March 19, 2011 for Tanzania, where he received a visa.
Halima Aden, a senior Somali national security officer, told Reuters: After thorough investigation, we confirmed it was him, and then we buried his corpse.”
Kenya's Police Commissioner, Matthew Iteere, told reporters: We have been told that there were two terrorists who were killed in Somalia on Wednesday. They were identified as Fazul Mohammed and Ali Dere. That is what we have been told by our counterparts.”
However, according to other reports, members of the Somali National Security Agency collected the corpses and handed them over to US officials for identification.
Abdullah has been on the run since the 1998 attacks in Kenya and Tanzania killed 220 people and wounded about 5,000. The U.S. government placed a $5-million reward for his capture.
He is believed to have joined the al-Qaeda terrorist organization in Afghanistan in the early 1990s.
At some point he also became a commander of Al-Shabaab, an East African Islamist group engaged in an insurgency against the Somali government.
He was also blamed for engineering a bomb attack on a Kenyan beach resort in 2002, which killed 13 people; as well as an attempt to shoot down an Israeli passenger jet.
According to Long War Journal, two other senior al-Qaeda officials wanted for the 1998 attacks have already been killed. In September 2009, US Special Operations Forces killed Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan in Mogadishu. In early 2007, Abu Tahla al Sudani died during fighting with Ethiopian forces.
In 2007, Abdullah himself survived a US air missile strike in the southern Somali coastal village of Hayo, near the town of Ras Kamboni.