U.S. coalition forces have killed Islamic State’s finance chief, who was regarded by some analysts as the likely successor to the terrorist group’s head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Pentagon said Friday.
Abd ar-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli, also known as Haji Imam, was slain earlier this week. NBC News reported that U.S. forces had helicoptered into Syria and were lying in wait when Imam was spotted inside a car driving past the American fighters.
An attempt to take him alive failed, with Imam and three colleagues killed in the ensuing violence, NBC said.
The State Department had put a bounty of up to $7 million for the Iraqi-born Imam, who officials said had reintegrated himself into Islamic State in Syria following his release from prison in 2012. It was the highest bounty for any ISIS leader other than al-Baghdadi, who is valued at $10 million.
“We’ve taken out the leader who oversees the funding for ISIL’s operations, hurting their ability to pay fighters and hire recruits,” Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said at a news conference Friday, using another acronym for Islamic State.
According to NBC, Imam also reportedly managed the day-to-day operations for ISIS and its affiliates in Syria, Iraq and Libya, and was also the main link to al-Baghdadi. His slaying “is a major score for the U.S.-led coalition as it tries to erode the terror group’s grip on the region,” NBC said.