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Al Qaeda official is said to be dead

Mustafa Abu Yazid, head of operations in Afghanistan, was killed in fighting in Pakistan's tribal area, sources say.

August 13, 2008|Zulfiqar Ali and Laura King | Special to The Times

PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN — A senior Al Qaeda figure died this week in fighting in Pakistan's tribal borderlands, a Pakistani security official and other sources said Tuesday.

Abu Saeed Masri, also known as Mustafa Abu Yazid, was believed to have been a close associate of Al Qaeda's No. 2, Ayman Zawahiri, and to have played a prominent role in the organization's overall structure.

Yazid, who was in charge of Al Qaeda's operations in Afghanistan, was reported to have been killed in the Bajaur tribal area along the Pakistani-Afghan frontier. The region has long provided a haven for Islamic militants, including some senior Al Qaeda leaders. Zawahiri is thought to have a base in the area.

Commanders and operatives in Al Qaeda often take names that identify them by their country of origin. Masri, part of Yazid's nom de guerre, means "Egyptian." Another prominent Egyptian in the organization, chemical and biological weapons expert Abu Khabab Masri, was killed last month in a strike in Pakistan's tribal areas.

Intelligence officials have said Yazid played a key role in Al Qaeda's finances. He is also thought to have helped orchestrate specific attacks in Pakistan, including the June bombing outside the Danish Embassy in the capital, Islamabad, which left six people dead.

Most Al Qaeda figures killed in the semiautonomous Pakistani tribal areas have been killed by U.S. aerial drones or in other targeted strikes. But the fighting in the last week in Bajaur has involved primarily the Pakistani military.

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laura.king@latimes.com

Special correspondent Ali reported from Peshawar and Times staff writer King from Islamabad.

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