BAGHDAD — Iraq says it has captured the Islamic State’s finance chief, a uncommon arrest of a serious ISIS determine that would produce vital intelligence positive factors towards the group because it struggles to re-emerge.
Iraqi safety forces stated in an announcement on Monday that that they had arrested Sami Jassem al-Ajuz “by a serious motion by our forces within the Nationwide Intelligence Service and a particular operation exterior our borders.”
They didn’t say when the arrest happened, or the place. However a senior Iraqi intelligence official, who requested to not be recognized as a result of he was not licensed to talk with the media, stated Mr. al-Ajuz had been captured throughout the border in Syria.
The Iraqi assertion described Mr. al-Ajuz because the chief monetary and financial official for the Islamic State. It stated he was a high aide to the present head of the group and a former deputy to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the ISIS chief who was killed in a U.S. raid in 2019 in northwestern Syria.
Al-Baghdadi declared a caliphate extending by means of Iraq and Syria after ISIS conquered elements of these international locations in 2014. By 2019, the group had misplaced all of that territory, however 1000’s of its fighters went underground. It now maintains sleeper cells as it really works to regenerate.
The U.S. State Division has supplied a reward of as much as $5 million for data resulting in the seize of Mr. al-Ajuz, describing him as instrumental in dealing with ISIS funds. It gave his identify as Sami Jasim Muhammad al-Jaburi, utilizing his tribal identify relatively than his household identify.
“Whereas serving as ISIS deputy in southern Mosul in 2014, he reportedly served because the equal of ISIS’s finance minister, supervising the group’s revenue-generating operations from illicit gross sales of oil, gasoline, antiquities, and minerals,” the division stated in an internet profile.
On Tuesday, the US army congratulated Iraq on the seize, describing Mr. al-Ajuz as one of many group’s most senior leaders. The Pentagon, which spelled his identify as Sami Jasim Mohammad al-Jauri, stated in an announcement that “we aren’t conscious of any Division of Protection involvement.”
The Iraqi safety official stated that the seize operation had been pushed by intelligence operatives and carried out by particular forces and that the ISIS chief remained in Iraqi custody.
Though he stated Iraqi safety forces had acted alone, a cross-border operation would have required the cooperation of at the least the Syrian-Kurdish forces in Syria. A spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, which management northeastern Syria, stated they didn’t but have a touch upon Mr. al-Ajuz’s seize.
Reuters reported that the ISIS chief had been in northwestern Syria and, citing unnamed safety officers, stated that Turkish intelligence had been key to his seize, and that he had been flown from Turkey to Iraq in a army airplane.
“This is likely one of the most important counter-ISIS achievements lately,” Charles Lister, director of the Washington-based Center East Institute’s Syria and Countering Terrorism and Extremism Applications, stated in an electronic mail.
Mr. Lister stated that Mr. al-Ajuz was a “potential intelligence gold mine,” and that his seize was a serious blow to ISIS operations in each Syria and Iraq.
“Through the years,” he stated, “solely very hardly ever has somebody of this seniority been captured alive.”
Jane Arraf reported from Baghdad and Eric Schmitt from Washington. Falih Hassan contributed reporting from Baghdad.