Al-Qaeda Leader Behind 1998 U.S. Embassy Bombings Killed in Somalia

Fazul Abdullah Mohammed was responsible for the 1998 bombings of U.S. Embassies.

June 11, 2011— -- Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, the head of Al-Qaeda in East Africa and the mastermind behind the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, was killed during a shootout with Somali government forces in Mogadishu.

Known as a man of many disguises, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed is believed to have had as many as 18 different identities he used to escape capture over the years.

He was on the FBI's most wanted list with a $5 million bounty on his head as a result of the embassy bombings, which left more than 200 people in Kenya and Tanzania.

This death is third major blow to al Qaeda leadership in the past six weeks. In a dramatic raid last month, Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden at his home in Pakistan.

Earlier this month, Ilyas Kashmiri, rumored to be one of the possible contenders to succeed bin Laden, was reportedly killed in a U.S. drone attack in Pakistan.

The Associated Press reports that though Mohammed was killed Tuesday, he was carrying a South African passport and Somali officials did not know who he really was at the time.

After burying the body, officials took a closer look at the death because of money and other items that were found, and they eventually exhumed the body. Abdulkareem Jama, the Somali information minister, told the AP that Mohammed was carrying tens of thousands of dollars, sophisticated weapons and maps among other materials.

Photographs taken of the body were compared with past photographs of Mohammed confirmed his identity.

"We congratulate our army for killing the head of al Qaeda operations in East Africa. They have shown their effectiveness," Jama said.

U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton was visiting Tanzania today when Somali officials confirmed the death. She called the killing "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," Clinton said, according to the AP.

"We commend the good work by the TFG [Somali security forces]," a senior Obama administration official said. "Fazul's death removes one of the terrorist group's most experienced operational planners in East Africa and has almost certainly set back operations."

The slippery Mohammed was thought to have been killed once in 2007, when a U.S. airstrike targeted him in southern Somalia.

Mohammed also managed to escape from Kenyan custody more than once, causing much embarrassment for Kenyan law enforcement officials.

After a difficult week of political unrest and the assassination of their interior minister, Somali officials are celebrating what they are calling a great victory.