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US-led coalition targets Islamic State's 'external attack planners' in airstrikes
The US-led coalition in Iraq and Syria has targeted several members of the Islamic State's external operations arm in recent weeks, according to a US military spokesman who briefed reporters earlier today. The jihadists were allegedly plotting new attacks in the West.
"Over the past month we've killed 10 ISIL leadership figures with targeted airstrikes, including several external attack planners, some of whom are linked to the Paris attacks," US Army Colonel Steve Warren, the spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), said according to Reuters. (The US military uses the acronym ISIL, as in Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, when discussing the Islamic State.) According to Warren, some of these leaders "had designs on further attacking the West."
Warren named the "external attack planners" who are believed to be dead. One of them is Charaffe al Mouadan, who was struck down on Dec. 24.
Al Mouadan was a "Syrian-based leader with a direct link" to Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who has been identified as the "Paris attack cell leader."
Abaaoud is a notorious Islamic State fighter who was featured in the group's propaganda months prior to the terrorist assault on Paris, which left 130 people dead and many more wounded.
Abbaoud was killed during a French counterterrorism raid on Nov. 18, after being identified as one of the prime suspects.
"Al Mouadan was actively planning attacks against the [W]est," according to Warren, who vowed that "as long as ISIL external attack planners are operating," the US Military "will hunt them and kill them."
Investigators have reportedly found ties between Al Mouadan and other members of the Paris terrorist cell as well. According to VICE News, authorities identified Al Mouadan as a suspect after they heard one of the attackers at the Bataclan concert hall, where 89 people were killed, mention someone named "Souleymane."
French officials identified "Souleymane" as Al Mouadan, who was friends with one of the Bataclan gunmen, Samy Amimour. MetroNews first reported that Amimour and Al Mouadan were "childhood friends" and, along with a third man, charged in October 2012 with "conspiracy to prepare acts of terrorism." Al Mouadan and Amimour initially wanted to "wage jihad in Yemen or Afghanistan," but that plan apparently fell through.
Amimour and Al Mouadan made their way to Syria in 2013. Amimour returned to France sometime before the terrorist operation on Nov. 13 and blew himself up at the Bataclan.
Warren identified another member of the Islamic State's external operations team as Abdul Qader Hakim, who was killed in an airstrike in Mosul on Dec. 26. Hakim was a facilitator for the "caliphate's" international terrorist operations and also tied to the cell in Paris.
French President François Hollande has said that the massacre in Paris was "planned in Syria, organized in Belgium, [and] perpetrated on our soil with French complicity." Assuming the details offered by Warren are accurate, then it appears that Hollande was right about the terrorists receiving assistance from operatives located in Syria.
[Source: By Thomas Joscelyn, The Long War Journal, NJ, 29Dec15]
War in Afghanistan & Iraq
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