U.S. Special Operations forces believe they killed ISIS’ “second in command” in an operation inside Syria, according to a senior defense official.
Haji Imam, whose real name is said to be Abd ar-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli, is a senior religious leader of the self-proclaimed Islamic State and had been considered to be next in line to succeed “caliph” Omar al-Baghdadi, though some ISIS watchers say his Turkoman background ruled that out.
The official says U.S. forces killed a high-ranking official in a raid on his vehicle who they believe was Haji Imam, after they tracked him for several days.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford will announce the operation this morning at the Pentagon.
Carter will also confirm the reported killing of ISIS’s “minister of war” in a strike this month. Tarkhan Batirashvili, better known as Omar al-Shishani or “Omar the Chechen,” was reported to be badly wounded by an airstrike, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.