Citing four "intelligence officials," the New York Times reported Israeli operatives killed senior al-Qaeda terrorist Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah – known as Abu Mohammed al-Masri – in Tehran last August at Washington's behest. According to the story, two gunmen fired five shots at Abdallah's car, killing him and his daughter Miriam, the widow of Osama bin Laden's son Hamza bin Laden. At the time, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps identified the victim as a Hezbollah member named Habib Daoud. Abdullah's resume includes training Somali warlord Mohammed Farah Aideed's militiamen to fight US forces in the early 1990s and masterminding the 1998 attacks on America's embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. He was indicted for involvement in the embassy attacks and the FBI offered a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to his apprehension or conviction. Like several other al-Qaeda leaders, Abdullah allegedly fled to Iran after the 2001 US-led overthrow of the Taliban and remained under house arrest until a 2015 deal in which Tehran released five al-Qaeda leaders in exchange for an Iranian diplomat kidnapped in Yemen. Iran's Foreign Ministry Saturday denied harboring Abdullah, accusing the United States and Israel of trying "to draw a link between Iran and such groups through falsification and the leakage of fabricated information to the media." The CIA, FBI, Pentagon, Israeli prime minister's office, and Israeli intelligence ministry each refused to comment. Rita Katz, co-founder of the private intelligence firm SITE Intelligence Group, claims al-Qaeda Internet forums last month confirmed Abdullah's death before deleting all information on the subject. Al-Qaeda did not respond to the New York Times article.
At an Oval Office meeting last Thursday, President Trump purportedly asked Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley about options to take action against Iran's Natanz nuclear facility in the coming weeks. This came a day after the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran's stockpile of low-enriched uranium reached 2,442.9kg in November, 12 times the amount permitted under the 2015 nuclear deal. President Trump reportedly ruled out a missile attack inside Iran. Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller is supposedly more hawkish on Iran than Mark Esper, his recently fired predecessor who opposed Qassem Soleimani's targeted killing in January.
Iranian opposition website Kaleme reported Sunday that 2009 reformist presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi and his wife contracted COVID-19, but "their general state of health is good." Prime Minister of Iran from 1981 to 1989, Mousavi challenged incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009 and accused the government of vote-rigging when it declared Ahmadinejad the winner just two hours after the polls closed. Millions of Iranians, dubbed the Green Movement, protested the suspected election fraud and organized the largest demonstrations since the 1979 revolution. Iranian authorities placed Mousavi under house arrest in 2011 after he called for rallies in support of Arab Spring protestors.
The Polisario Front, which fought a 16-year war (1975-91) to win Western Sahara's independence from Morocco, officially terminated a 30-year ceasefire Saturday and called for a mass mobilization for a military effort against Morocco. Fighting broke out after Moroccan troops entered a UN-patrolled buffer zone Friday to disperse Sahrawi demonstrators blocking a road that serves as a commercial artery with neighboring Mauritania. The Moroccan military issued a statement Friday saying it came under fire from the Polisario Front while reopening the Guerguerat border crossing, but did not suffer any casualties. Mohamed Salem Ould Salek, foreign minister of the Polisario-declared Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, announced Monday that, while "the war only started as a consequence of Morocco's aggression and action in Guerguerat... the end of the war is now linked to the end of the illegal occupation of parts of the territory of the Sahrawi Republic."
The Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF), which assembled in Tunis from 7-15 November, failed to appoint a transitional administration responsible for governing the country until national elections for a unified Libyan government replacing the rival administrations in Tripoli and Tobruk. While agreeing to hold elections on December 24, 2021, the LPDF was also expected to select a president of the presidency council, two presidential deputies, and a prime minister. Yet, UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) head Stephanie Williams announced Monday, "An online meeting of the LPDF is already planned for November 23 in order to reach an agreement on the selection criteria for the reformed Presidency Council and the Prime Minister." UNSMIL selected the LPDF's 75 members, who purportedly represent all segments of Libyan political and social society.
Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told the Global Security Forum Monday when asked about the Abraham Accords, "I think it's better to have a united [Arab] front to put the interests of the Palestinians [first] to end the [Israeli] occupation." However, he added, "We don't like anyone interfering in our sovereign decisions... that's why we wouldn't comment on their sovereign decision. It's up to them at the end of the day to decide what is better for their countries."
Egypt's National Elections Authority stated Sunday the pro-President Sisi Nation's Future Party won all 284 seats in the House of Representatives allocated by party list proportional representation and 59 of the 73 single-member constituency races called so far, the rest being decided in run-offs spanning November and December. Voters elect 284 representatives via party list proportional representation in four constituencies and 284 directly through a two-round system in 142 constituencies. The President then appoints 28 representatives. The National Elections Authority reported a 29 percent voter turnout in the two rounds of voting that have taken place. It has also dismissed all legal complaints by candidates alleging electoral fraud.
Micah Levinson is the Washington, DC Resident Fellow at the Middle East Forum