COMPOSITE PIC: Fazul Abdullah Mohammed released by the FBI and President Bush during a press conference to announce the Most Wanted Terrorist list. (Photo by Mai/Mai/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
The United States hailed the death of Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, Africa’s most wanted man, as a "significant blow" to Al- Qaeda in Africa as the Somali government Sunday gave more details about the killing.
Fazul, Al-Qaeda's presumed head in east Africa, wanted for blowing up the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, died in a shootout in the Somali capital in the night of Tuesday to Wednesday.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reacted immediately, calling it a "significant blow to Al-Qaeda, its extremist allies and its operations in East Africa."
"It is a just end for a terrorist who brought so much death and pain to so many innocents in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam and elsewhere -- Tanzanians, Kenyans, Somalis and our own embassy personnel," she said in Tanzania's commercial capital Dar es Salaam during her African tour.
The 38-year-old is thought to have planned the massive truck bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam that killed 224 people in 1998 and had a $5 million bounty on his head, making him Africa's most wanted man.
Fazul's killing comes after that of Al-Qaeda's number one Osama Bin Laden in a US raid in Pakistan in May and that of another commander, the Pakistani Ilyas Kashmiri, thought to have died in a US drone stike earlier this month.
The Somali transitional government (TFG) on Sunday officially confirmed Fazul's death in a banal shootout at a roadblock.
"Security forces of Somalia’s TFG killed Fazul Abdullah Mohammed on the night of June 8. He was killed at a security checkpoint ... subsequent to a routine security check of a suspected vehicle."
The two passengers in the pickup truck "refused to stop, tried to escape by exchanging fire with security forces, and were shot dead," the statement said, adding one of the two was later identified as Fazul.
In addition to a South African passport Fazul was carrying evidence clearly linking him to Somali Islamist insurgents, the government said.
He "was carrying ... documents with the signature of Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, one of the top leaders of Al-Shabab, an affiliate of Al-Qaeda," it said.
Fazul and the second man, a known Kenyan extremist Mohammed Dere were driving in a pickup truck full of medicine, laptops and mobile phones and had $40,000 in cash on them at the time of the shootout.
They appeared to have taken a wrong turn while trying to reach a Shebab position and ended up in an area under TFG control. Fazul 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."
A Somali source said the South African passport found on Fazul was in the name of Daniel Robinson and 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 TFG said he must have entered Somalia either by sea or overland, which would have have entailed passing through at least one other country in the region.
Fluent in several languages and using a variety of pseudonyms, Fazul was a master of disguise and moved freely round the whole region, while still keeping a low profile.