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Undated militant image shows Abu Muhammed al-Adnani, the Islamic State militant group's spokesman, who IS say was "martyred" in northern Syria. SITE Intel Group via AP
islamic state

Russia takes credit for killing "principal architect" of terrorist attacks against the West

Islamic State said that one of its main figures has been killed by a US airstrike.

RUSSIA HAS CLAIMED credit for killing one of the Islamic State’s top leaders in an airstrike.

Abu Mohamed al-Adnani, described by the US as the “principal architect” of the group’s attacks on the West, has been reportedly killed in Syria.

The announcement of the death came yesterday from IS who said that al-Adnani was “martyred while surveying operations to repel the military campaigns against Aleppo”.

Russia’s military said one of its air strikes had killed Adnani in a bombing raid on Tuesday that left up to 40 IS jihadists dead.

The United States said coalition forces had carried out an airstrike targeting al-Adnani in Aleppo province yesterday and that it was still assessing the results of the raid, but that his death would be a major blow to the group.

The Russian defence ministry statement today said an Su-34 warplane had struck a group of jihadists near the village of Um Hosh in Aleppo province.

“According to information confirmed through several intelligence channels, field commander Abu Mohamed al-Adnani was among those killed,” the statement said.

It was the first time Moscow claimed to have killed a top-ranking IS leader.

Who was Adnani?

Al-Adnani, whose real name is Taha Sobhi Falaha, persistently called for attacks against the West, which paid off in bloody notoriety with the 13 November coordinated attacks in Paris that hit a concert hall, a stadium and restaurants and bars, leaving 130 people dead and hundreds wounded.

One of IS’s most recognised figures, al-Adnani had called for lone-wolf attacks on civilians using weapons including knives and even vehicles, as happened in Nice in France on 14 July, when a jihadist drove a truck through crowds of revellers, killing 86 people.

France Truck Attack People pay tribute to the victims at the site of a deadly truck attack on the famed Promenade des Anglais in Nice, southern France. Francois Mori / PA Francois Mori / PA / PA

In Washington, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said al-Adnani “has served as principal architect of ISIL’s external operations and as ISIL’s chief spokesman,” using another name for the group.

He said:

He has coordinated the movement of ISIL fighters, directly encouraged lone-wolf attacks on civilians and members of the military and actively recruited new ISIL members.

Al-Adnani, who had a $5 million US bounty on his head, was originally from the western Syrian province of Idlib and joined the jihadist movement in Iraq, where he served under late Al-Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

He is believed to have been in his late-30s and crossed the border from Syria to join al-Qaida in Iraq, a precursor to IS, after the 2003 US-led invasion.

download (12) File photo of a building destroyed by an airstrike in Aleppo. Associated Press Associated Press

In late June 2014, he formally declared the establishment of a caliphate, or Islamic state, stretching across parts of Syria and Iraq, under the leadership of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and demanded allegiance from Muslims worldwide.

Powerful orator

A powerful orator, al-Adnani went on to become the voice of IS. He released numerous, lengthy audio files online in which he delivered fiery sermons urging followers to kill civilians in nations that supported the US-led coalition against the group.

Al-Adnani said in 2014:

If you can kill a disbelieving American or European — especially the spiteful and filthy French — or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that joined a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way however it may be.

In other speeches he referred to US President Barack Obama as “an idiot” and Secretary of State John Kerry as an “uncircumcised old geezer.”

Earlier this year, he called for massive attacks during Ramadan — a call that translated into the bloodiest Muslim holy month in recent memory. Followers of IS carried out attacks on several continents, including the Orlando shooting, the Nice truck attack in France and a massive suicide bombing in downtown Baghdad.

Al-Adnani also disparaged Saudi Arabia and its influential clerics for failing to rally behind the rebels

High intelligence penetration 

Aymenn Jawad Tamimi, an expert on jihadist groups, said Al-Adnani’s death was “significant symbolically and in pointing to the wider decline of the Islamic State”.

“If a coalition air strike hit him, it shows intelligence penetration by the coalition is very high,” he said.

A US defence official described him as one of IS’s most senior leaders and far more significant than simply being the group’s spokesman.

“Most notably, he served as ISIL’s chief of external operations, directing and inspiring major terrorist attacks outside of Iraq and Syria,” he said, linking al-Adnani to a string of high-profile attacks that have killed hundreds, including in Paris, Brussels and Istanbul.

“If confirmed, this is a very significant blow for ISIL, and will degrade its ability to direct and inspire terror attacks on the West,” said the official who declined to be named.

Aleppo, where Aamaq said al-Adnani was killed, is a current focal point of the civil war in Syria, where IS, Syrian Kurdish forces, Turkey-backed rebels and President Bashar Assad’s forces are vying for control.

The province is frequently struck by US-led coalition airstrikes as well as Russian air raids.

With reporting from AP

Read: Islamic State spokesman ‘killed in Aleppo’

Read: Islamic State mass graves reveal thousands of dead bodies and extent of horror

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