I just returned home to Israel late last night from a wonderful family vacation in Europe to the news that U.S. airstrikes took out a top ISIS operative in northern Syria, close to the border of Turkey.
Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the Voice of ISIS, Is Dead
By Robin Wright, August 30, 2016
Two years ago, the United States put a five-million-dollar bounty on the head of Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the chief propagandist and strategist of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. He had used some of the most repugnant language to come out of the jihadi caliphate. In September, 2014, after the Obama Administration mobilized a coalition to conduct air strikes against ISIS, Adnani responded with a long and rambling challenge:
O Obama. O mule of the Jews. You are vile. And you will be disappointed, Obama. Is this all you were capable of doing in this campaign of yours? Is this how far America has reached of incapacity and weakness? Are America and all its allies from amongst the crusaders and atheists unable to come down to the ground? Have you not realized—oh, crusaders— that proxy wars have not availed you nor will they ever avail you? Have you not realized, O mule of the Jews, that the battle cannot be decided from the air at all? Or do you think that you are smarter than Bush, your obeyed fool, when he brought the armies of the cross and placed them under the fire of the mujahidin on the ground? No, you are more foolish than him.
The United States appears finally to have got its man—one of the most wanted targets on its terrorism list—on Tuesday. In an elegiac statement, the Islamic State announced Adnani’s “martyrdom,” while “surveying military operations” in Aleppo province. “After a journey filled with sacrifice and defense against disbelief and its party, the lion-like Abu Muhammad al Adnani al-Shami dismounted, to join the caravan of martyred leaders, the caravan of heroes who waged jihad . . . and spoke the truth aloud while the death lied in wait for them,” ISIS said.
Within hours, a Defense Department official in Washington issued a terse statement: “With regards to the reports about the death of ISIL leader Al-Adnani, I can confirm on background that earlier this morning . . . coalition forces conducted an airstrike in Al-Bab, Syria, targeting an ISIL senior leader. We are still assessing the results of the operation at this time.” Al-Bab, which is held by ISIS, is in northern Aleppo province, near the border with Turkey.
Adnani’s demise, if confirmed, would be the biggest single setback to the leadership of ISIS since the group began its blitzkrieg across the Middle East, redrawing a century-old map in its wake. The caliphate’s emir is the elusive Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a cleric and Islamic scholar. Adnani was his chief of operations, both inside the Islamic State and abroad.
“Besides Baghdadi, he’s the second-most central figure,” a U.S. official involved in the war against ISIS told me on Tuesday. “He’s central to military planning, central to messaging efforts. He’s the voice of ISIL, and he has been the one advocating for all these horrific attacks in Iraq and Syria and around the world. He has been crucial to their efforts. If it’s true, it’s a significant setback to them.” Adnani gained fame for churning out slick videos of ISIS beheading Western hostages and gunning down local opponents in mass executions, with the black ISIS flag flying in the background. His bloodthirsty recruiting tactics attracted thousands of foreign fighters, from five continents…..
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