PENTAGON - The Pentagon says a U.S. strike has killed a core al-Qaida leader with ties to Ayman al-Zawahiri and deceased al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
Abu Hani al-Masri was killed in a drone strike on February 4 while riding in a vehicle near Idlib, Syria, a defense official told VOA Wednesday. He is the fourth al-Qaida leader killed in Syria this year, according to the official.
Al-Masri, who also went by the name Hani Jasarevic, was a founding member of Egyptian Islamic Jihadist (EIJ), the first Sunni group to use suicide bombers in their terror attacks.
The Pentagon says EIJ has attempted multiple attacks against American and allied facilities, including a 1998 attempt to blow up the U.S. embassy in Albania.
Al-Masri also oversaw the creation and operation of al-Qaida training camps in Afghanistan in the 1980s and '90s, where the Pentagon said he “recruited, indoctrinated, trained and equipped thousands of terrorists.”
An earlier U.S. strike on February 3 killed 10 al-Qaida terrorists in a building that was being used as an al-Qaida meeting place, according to the Pentagon.
“These strikes disrupt al-Qaida's ability to plot and direct external attacks targeting the U.S. and our interests worldwide,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said.