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Mohammed Atef

Al-Qaeda Operations Chief


Mohammed Atef

Means of DeathU.S. airstrike
Date of DeathNov. 14, 20012
Location of DeathKabul, Afghanistan
RoleOperations Chief
SupervisorOsama bin Laden
AffiliationEgyptian Islamic Jihad1
AffiliationAl-Qaeda majlis al shura3
AffiliationAl-Qaeda Military Committee3
Alias(es)Abu Hafs al-Masri3, Abu Hafs El-Masry El-Khabir3,4,5, Sheikh Taysir Abdullah3,4, Abu Khadijah3, Abu Fatima3, Sobhi al-Sitta , Abu Hafs el-Misri3, Abu Hafs3, Al-Khabir5
Alternate Spelling(s)Mohammed Atif, Muhammed Atef
Rough Age at Death57
Date of Birth19441
Place of BirthMinoufia, Egypt1
DescriptionHair: Dark brown or black. Wears full beard or mustache.4
Charged withConspiracy, Murder3
Charging authorityUnited States
In connection withEast African Embassy Bombings
Charges issuedNov. 4, 1998
Charging authorityEgypt
Case statusConvicted1
ConvictionsSubversion and membership in Egyptian Islamic Jihad (in absentia)1
SentenceLife imprisonment 1
Case resolved1999
Narrative and Notes
  • Atef served as al-Qaeda's miltitary chief until he was tracked and killed by American forces shortly after Sept. 11.
  • He replaced Abu Ubaidah al-Banshiri in that role.
  • Atef and Ayman al-Zawahiri served as Osama bin Laden's two closest advisers until his death.
  • The former Egyptian policeman joined Egyptian Islamic Jihad and became a leader in the organization, ultimately supporting the group's merger with al-Qaeda in 1998.
  • In 2001, Atef's daughter married Osama bin Laden's son Mohammed.
  • He is considered one of the founders of al-Qaeda. He sat on the maljis al shura, or consultation council, of the organization.
  • He oversaw training for al-Qaeda recruits.
  • He played an organizing role in the 1993 attacks on U.S. troops in Somalia, the 1998 East Africa embassy bombings, and the Sept. 11 attacks.
  • His death was the first major U.S. victory against al-Qaeda during the war in Afghanistan.1,3
  • Atef may have persuaded bin Laden to approve Khalid Shaikh Mohammed's proposal for the 9-11 attacks, and may have played a more significant role in their planning than is often described.6
    1 Lumpkin, John. 'Top bin Laden aide killed by airstrike.' The Associated Press: Nov. 16, 2001.
    2 The precise date of his death was not made clear, but it is within a day of Nov. 14, 2001.
    3 United States vs. Osama bin Laden et al indictment, Nov. 4, 1998, and updates.
    4 FBI Executive Summary. Status of embassy bombings investigation dated Nov. 18, 1998. Posted online by PBS' 'Frontline' program.
    5 Al-Khabir means 'the big guy.'
    6 The 9-11 Commission Final Report. July 22, 2004. Chapter 5.2.
    Photo: FBI
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    Page last modified: 01-11-2006 18:01:03 ZULU