ISIS second-in-command killed in US airstrike. The news was reported by militants from the so-called Islamic State itself. A spokesperson for the radical Wahhabi group has confirmed that Abu Mutaz Qurashi, also known as Fadhil Ahmad al-Hayali, was killed in an airstrike carried out by American forces earlier this year.
Qurashi was the top aide of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He was in charge of ISIS operations in Iraq and was instrumental in planning major offensives and attacks against the Iraqi Army, as well as against the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the country.
The deceased extremist militant was a former Iraqi army colonel during the Saddam Hussein regime. After being decommissioned by American forces, he quickly joined radical Sunni groups and eventually became a senior member of al-Qaeda, alongside al-Baghdadi.
The White House has also confirmed his death and further reiterated the danger Qurashi had posed to the Iraqi Army and Peshmerga forces. He was a prime target of the anti-ISIS coalition, led by the United States and several Arab Gulf nations.
According to the Pentagon, ISIS would not have been able to occupy such large portions of territory in Iraq and Syria without Qurashi’s military command and expertise. He was also reportedly in charge of the ISIS takeover of Mosul, which happened in June 2014.
Furthermore, Qurashi was believed to be a leading figure in al-Baghdadi’s circles on matters of internal politics and the application of the radical Wahhabi ideology the extremist group adheres to.
His death comes as a great victory for all forces involved in the struggle against the so-called Islamic State. However, militants from the extremist group have said that Qurashi has been martyred and they call on all their sympathizers to wage jihad against American and Russian forces involved in the fight against ISIS.
Earlier this month, reports have surfaced that the ISIS leader himself, al-Baghdadi, was allegedly killed in an air raid carried out by the Iraqi Army. It was indeed confirmed that the airstrike had targeted the convoy carrying al-Baghdadi to a meeting with fellow ISIS leaders, but the Pentagon maintains that he managed to escape in one vehicle which evaded the attack.
Al-Baghdadi remains the primary target of the anti-ISIS coalition. He is venerated as a ‘caliph’ by members of the terror network, who regard him as a direct descendent of the Prophet Muhammad. The US State Department lists al-Baghdadi as a global terrorist and has placed a $10 million reward for any information leading to his capture or death.
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