US coalition forces have killed Islamic State’s second in command, Haji Imam, according to a top defense official cited by The Daily Beast. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is expected to announce the operation later on Friday.
Imam, whose real name is said to be Abd ar-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli, was considered to be second in command for Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL). He is believed to go by various aliases, according to NBC.
Reuters confirmed that an IS commander was targeted and likely killed in a US operation.
In May 2015, the US State Department announced a reward of up to US$7 million for information leading to his capture or death.
That same month, the Iraqi Ministry of Defense reported that Imam had been killed in a US coalition airstrike on a mosque. However, Washington later denied that coalition planes had struck a mosque.
In addition to confirming Imam’s death later on Friday, Carter is expected to confirm the reported killing of IS’ “minister of war,” Abu Omar al-Shishani, in a strike earlier this month.
Also known as Omar the Chechen, 30-year-old al-Shishani is believed to have been a close military adviser to the infamous leader of IS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Until recently, al-Shishani led a brigade of foreign jihadist fighters responsible for a series of beheadings and suicide bombings in northern Syria.