Iraqi security forces have captured a senior member of the Islamic State (IS) group who was a deputy to slain leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and oversaw its finances, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi said yesterday.
ami Jasim was detained in “a complex external operation” by Iraqi intelligence services, Mr Kadhimi wrote on Twitter, without giving further details or saying where he had been captured.
Mr Jasim, an Iraqi national, is one of IS’s core leaders who may offer valuable information on the group’s operations, said Hassan Hassan, an expert on the group.
He is only the second senior IS leader to be taken alive, he said.
Baghdadi, who declared himself leader of a cross-border “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq in 2014, was killed in an operation by US special forces in northwestern Syria in 2019.
While IS was driven out of most of the territory it once held in Syria and Iraq several years ago, Western military officials estimate that it still has at least 10,000 fighters across the two countries, typically in remote areas.
“While we are not commenting on any specific operation, we applaud our brave Iraqi partners as they regularly lead and conduct destructive blows to the remnants of (IS),” Lieutenant Colonel Joel Harper, spokesman for the US-led coalition.
He was speaking in response to a question from Reuters about Mr Jasim’s capture.
The US-led coalition is working with Iraqi security forces and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in Syria against remnants of the group.
In Iraq, IS militants still wage regular attacks against the police, army and Iraqi state paramilitary units, killing dozens of police and fighters in the past year.
Mr Hassan, author of a book on IS and editor-in-chief of New Lines magazine, said Mr Jasim is a member of IS’s top leadership council, the delegated committee –which has between half a dozen and a dozen members – and is a close aide of the group’s leader, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi.
His role had expanded from overseer of the group’s finances to co-ordinating activities between Iraq and Syria, Mr Hassan said.
“He is involved in the day-to-day operations of IS in Syria and Iraq.
“Strategically and tactically, this is a significant capture for the Iraqis,” he told Reuters.
“Usually, (IS leaders) blow themselves up or fight to the end.”
According to the website of the US Department of State’s counter-terrorism rewards programme, Rewards for Justice, Mr Jasim has been “instrumental in managing finances for IS’s terrorist operations”.
“While serving as IS deputy in southern Mosul in 2014, he reportedly served as the equivalent of IS’s finance minister, supervising the group’s revenue-generating operations from illicit sales of oil, gas, antiquities, and minerals,” it says.