Yoram Schweitzer, the head of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) Program on Terrorism and Low Intensity Conflict, spoke to Arutz Sheva about the killing of senior al-Qaeda official Mohammed al-Masri, the terror group's number 2, in Tehran earlier this year.
Schweitzer said that such an operation is "based on a very precise and -usually - not very short collection of information, specific information on the man himself: his movements, his whereabouts, trying to make sure you seize him in a situation when he is not surrounded by a lot of people in order to prevent all kinds of obstacles. So it's a very specific work that is being invested in locating the person, realizing that he is in a situation where he is vulnerable and cab be taken out as clandestinely as possible. Sometimes it is in a busy street, but usually you get him in a time when you can evade the scene unharmed, very quickly, without being noticed, and definitely without being stopped."
"The main targets of the security services that are doing such operations is to prevent the object from continuing to operate," he explained. "If he's somebody who poses a threat of future attacks, then he should be eliminated because we know the effect of these kind of prominent figures over the organization's future activities. This is the main issue. It also serves as a deterrent factor, and sometimes the last calculation is to 'close the bill,' if you wish, and to settle the score. That's the last consideration," he said.
When asked why America would ask Israel to carry out the assassination, Schweitzer said that he found it "quite puzzling that the Americans, who have operated to eliminate al-Qaeda's senior veteran leadership in the last years, constantly, mainly in Syria ... the Americans have priority to eliminate the heirs [of Osama Bin Laden] and the senior leadership of the organization to prevent al-Qaeda from resurging again."
"Now why did they leak to the New York Times the information that the Israelis were behind it - whether it's true or not, whether they assisted in collaborating together in order to get rid of this person. I think in the priorities of the Israelis, such a figure in al-Qaeda is not at the head of the priorities of the Israel. It may be some kind of cooperation, but again, we're just guessing. I don't know anything about it."
When asked why this operation was leaked to the media, he said: "I think that the psychological part of it is one part. The fact that a prominent figure was taken out, assuring that your own population is not absorbing attacks by the Salafist Jihadist organizations without reacting ... it also serves as a warning to Iran, which we know is prominent in promoting terror activities ... that they are vulnerable," he said.
"If you look at Obama's Administration: in this respect of targeted killings, it was the most intensive and active administration of the Americans up till now in pursuing and targeting al-Qaeda leaders. And then Trump, in spite of his policy of nothing from Obama, followed suit and also took measures and used targeted killings. And I suspect that the Biden Administration will follow through with this policy, because this is part of the American counterterrorism strategy which has nothing to do with which administration is there."