The US on Friday announced the killing in Syria of a senior operative of the Islamic State who served as the leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s deputy and finance minister.
Announcing the killing of Abd al-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli, also called Haji Imam, defence secretary Ash Carter said the momentum of the anti-IS “campaign was clearly on our side”.
Al-Qaduli was the second senior IS leader to be killed in recent days. The US had announced the killing of Omar al-Shishani , the IS minister of war, last week.
Carter conceded in response to a question from a reporter that these leaders will be replaced, but insisted eliminating IS leaders is necessary though not sufficient in itself.
“These leaders have been around for a long time — they are senior and experienced and eliminating them is an important objective and result,” he added.
Addressing reporters with chairman of the joint chiefs of staff Joe Dunford, Carter declined to share details of how al-Qaduli was killed.
Al-Qaduli joined al Qaeda in 2004 under the command of the now deceased leader of al Qaida in Iraq (AQI), Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and served as al-Zarqawi’s deputy and the AQI amir or leader of Mosul, Ninawa province.
According to the US justice department, which had announced a reward of $7 million for al-Qaduli’s arrest, he joined IS shortly after his release from prison in Iraq in 2012. He moved to Syria, and rose to the top of the outfit.
The Washington Post said terrorism experts regarded al-Qaduli as a kind of elder statesman for the terrorist group because of his long association with the IS and its predecessor organisations. The 57-year-old native of Mosul was described, the Post said, “as charismatic and a gifted speaker as well as a skilful manager who played a critical role as a link between al-Baghdadi and the Islamic State’s regional emirs in Iraq and Syria”.