Iran has refuted an earlier New York Times report about the killing of an Al-Qaeda* terrorist operating in the country, according to the statement released by the Foreign Ministry.
The Foreign Ministry has also denied the presence of the group's terrorists on Iranian soil.
"Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh strongly rejects the presence of any members of this group in Iran and recommends that the American media not follow the Hollywood scenarios of the American and Zionist authorities," the ministry said in a statement.
واکنش سخنگوی وزارت امور خارجه در خصوص برخی گزارشهای منتشر شده مبنی بر ادعای ترور یک مقام گروه تروریستی القاعده در ایران pic.twitter.com/TezuRjcMYb— 🇮🇷 وزارت امور خارجه (@IRIMFA) November 14, 2020
"From time to time, Washington and Tel Aviv try to tie Iran to such groups by lying and leaking false information to the media in order to avoid responsibility for the criminal activities of this group and other terrorist groups in the region," the ministry added.
The ministry's spokesman called the reports about alleged assassination "a lie", maintaining that "such accusations are made in the context of a comprehensive economic, intelligence and psychological war against the Iranian people."
"The media should not be a platform for spreading the purposeful lies of the White House against Iran," the official said, as quoted by Tasnim News Agency.
Khatibzadeh also maintained that Al-Qaeda was a "brainchild of erroneous American policy and its allies in the region", while saying that with reports like the one published, the United States and Israel are attempting to shirk responsibility for the "criminal" activity of "this and other terrorist groups".
Report on 'Secret' Killing
The statement comes shortly after the NYT published the report, which claimed that one of al-Qaeda's chief operatives, Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, who was also known as Abu Muhammad al-Masri, was killed in Iran in August by Israeli intelligence at the behest of the United States. He was considered to be second-in-command within the terrorist organisation's leadership after Ayman al-Zawahiri, but his death has remained a secret, the NYT explained, citing intelligence sources.
Al-Masri was accused of being one of the masterminds behind the bombing of the US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998. He has remained one of the FBI's most wanted terrorists.
According to the NYT, his killing occured on 7 August in Tehran: he was gunned down by two Israeli agents on a motorcycle after being tracked by US authorities for several years. The terrorist was said to have been murdered along with his daughter. The NYT alleges that he has been living in Tehran's Pasdaran district since at least 2015.
The report was not immediately confirmed or discarded by the White House, as possible US involvement in the alleged operation remains a matter of conjectue.
*Al-Qaeda and Daesh are terrorist groups banned in Russia and many other countries.