ISIS’ second in command was killed during an operation this month, defense officials announced Friday, a major score for the U.S.-led coalition as it tries to erode the terror group’s grip on the region.
In addition to the death of Haji Imam this month, the Pentagon confirmed the killing of another top leader — Omar al-Shishani — in an earlier raid.
“Striking leadership is necessary, but it’s far from efficient,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said at a news conference, adding that the U.S. is “systematically eliminating” ISIS’ cabinet.
“Leaders can be replaced, however, these leaders have been around for a long time,” Carter said. “They are senior. They’re experienced. So eliminating them is an important objective and achieves an important result.”
The former physics teacher was designated as a global terrorist by the US in 2014 and the following year it offered a reward of $7m for information about him that led to his arrest or capture.
“We are steadily eliminating Isil’s cabinet,” said Mr Carter, using another acronym for Isis. He said seveal senior figures within the group had been killed, among them Haji Imam, whom he said acted as the Islamists’ finance minister and also overseen some external plots. “He was a well-known terrorist within Isil dating back to its original iteration as Al-Qaeda in Iraq.”