ISIS second-in-command killed by U.S. Special Forces in Syria

Published 25 March 2016

ISIS second-in-command Abd al-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli, aka Haji Imam, was killed by U.S. Special Forces operating inside Syria.

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Joseph Dunford, in a Pentagon press conference, said al-Qaduli was targeted and killed as part of the broader U.S. campaign to take down ISIS leaders.

Al-Qaduli, a former Iraqi physics teacher, was the deputy of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, who was killed by U.S. forces in in 2006. He was designated as a global terrorist by the United States in 2014, and the there was a $7 million reward on his head.

This is the second time this month that a top leader of ISIS is killed by U.S. forces. ISIS “minister of war,” and the third most senior ISIS leader after Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the now-dead al-Qaduliin, died in a hospital two weeks ago after being seriously injured in a U.S. airstrike. Tarkhan Batirashvili, better known as Omar al-Shishani or “Omar the Chechen,” was in a coma in a hospital for five days after the house where he was meeting with other ISIS leaders was destroyed.

“We are systematically eliminating ISIL’s cabinet,” Carter said at a news conference.

He made clear that the challenge was not that simple.

“Striking leadership is necessary,” he said, “but as you know it’s far from sufficient. As you know leaders can be replaced. These leaders have been around for a long time — they are senior and experienced and eliminating them is an important objective and result. They will be replaced and we will continue to go after their leadership.”

“The removal of this ISIL leader will hamper the organization’s ability for them to conduct operations both inside and outside of Iraq and Syria,” Carter said.