Mogadishu: The presumed head of al Qaeda in east Africa, Fazul Abdullah Muhammad, was killed in Mogadishu, Kenya`s police chief said on Saturday, confirming a report from Somali Islamist Shebab rebels.
Fazul Abdullah, 38, is thought to have planned the massive US embassy truck bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998 and had a $5 million bounty on his head.
"We have received that communication from authorities in Somalia. We have been told that there were two terrorists who were killed in Somalia on Wednesday last week," Kenyan Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere said.
Iteere said the identity of one of the two had "been given as Fazul Muhammad ... That is what we have been told by our counterparts in Somalia."
"One of the men that was killed near Mogadishu was Fazul Abdullah, may Allah bless his soul. He is not dead as thousands like him are still in the fight against the enemy of Allah," a senior Al Shebab commander had earlier this week told a news agency on condition of anonymity.
Officials with the Somali Transitional Government (TFG) said the men were killed at a roadblock on Tuesday night.
"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," a TFG military commander, Abdikarim Yusuf, said.
"We took their ID documents, one of which was a foreign passport," he said, adding that an investigation was underway.
The incident happened on the north western outskirts of the Somali capital, a regional security source said.
The two men were driving in a pick-up truck full of medicine, laptops and mobile phones.
The same source said the two appeared to have taken the wrong turning and ended up in an area under TFG control when they were trying to reach a Shebab position.
A Somali source close to the investigation said the man identified as Fazul was in possession of a South African passport in the name of Daniel Robinson and which gave his date of birth as 1971.
The passport, issued April 13, 2009, indicated that its bearer left South Africa for Tanzania on March 19 and was granted a visa there. The Tanzanian visa was the only one in the passport.
The man was also in possession of $40,000 in cash, the same Somali source said. He appeared to have come from Lower Juba in southern Somalia where he was heading a group of foreign fighters under the name of "Abu-Abdirahman the Canadian."
Contrary to normal practice when such incidents occur, the bodies of the two men were picked up by the Somali intelligence services and given to US officials for identification.
Fazul Abdullah, who was born in the Comoros islands, joined al Qaeda in 1991 and was believed to be behind the August 1998 embassy bombings that killed a total of 224 people in the worst atrocity by al Qaeda until the September 2001 attacks.
From 2002 he was put in charge of al Qaeda`s operations in the whole of east Africa. That same year he planned anti-Israeli attacks in Mombasa that left 15 dead.
On January 8, 2007 he survived a US raid that left dozens of people dead at Ras Kamboni in southern Somalia.