Iran on Saturday denied a report that Al Qaeda’s second-in-command was killed in the country in August by Israeli operatives acting at the behest of the United States, Reuters reported.

Citing intelligence officials, The New York Times reported on Friday that Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, who went by the nom de guerre (an assumed name) Abu Muhammad al-Masri, was gunned down by two men on a motorcycle in the streets of Tehran on August 7. He was accused of helping plot the 1998 bombings of two US embassies in Africa. According to the newspaper, the US authorities had been tracking Masri and other Al Qaeda operatives in Iran for years, but their exact role in the killing is not clear. Masri was seen as a likely successor to Al Qaeda’s current leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

In a statement, Iran’s Foreign Ministry said that there were no Al Qaeda terrorists on its soil. “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.

An US official, speaking to Reuters on the condition of anonymity, refused to confirm any of the details in The New York Times article or whether Washington was involved. The White House National Security Council also declined to comment.

The killing of Masri, one of Al Qaeda’s founding leaders, was kept under wraps until now, according to the report. His daughter, the widow of former Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden’s son, Hamza bin Laden, was also killed, the newspaper said. In 2011, the Al Qaeda chief who orchestrated the 9/11 attacks, was killed in a US raid in Pakistan.