ISIS’ Number Two Killed in Air Strike: Will It Weaken the Terrorist Group?

ISIS’ Amaq News Agency reported that Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, one of the group’s most prominent and longest-tenured leaders, was killed in an air strike on Tuesday while surveying military operations in Aleppo, Syria. Adnani was ISIS’ second in command, behind leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and also served as the group’s most senior Syrian operative, propaganda chief, top spokesperson, and head of external operations.
In an interview with The New York Times, Harry Sarfo, a former ISIS militant who is now jailed in Germany, explained that Adnani oversaw ISIS’ “secret service” and personally selected which gruesome videos to promote on social media. Adnani also released several online audio files in which he urged followers to carry out attacks, especially during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. In May 2015, the U.S. State Department announced a $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest.
As a key figure in the ISIS hierarchy, Adnani’s death will likely impact ISIS’ military and propaganda operations moving forward.
“The loss of Adnani to ISIS cannot be overstated,” said Michael W.S. Ryan a Senior Fellow at the Jamestown Foundation.
“He was the most sophisticated ideologue in the movement’s first generation. His writings and videos may continue to be influential, but his talent for framing events as they occur for the Jihadi Salafist universe will be sorely missed by the enemies of the prevailing world order,” he continued.
“Just when ISIS is beginning to come apart and returning to its terrorist roots, the organization will be even weaker without his talent. The war with ISIS is far from over, but Adnani’s death is a milestone,” Ryan said.
However, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, casts some doubt on the significance of the terrorist’s death.“ Adnani had a large portfolio, but that doesn’t mean he was particularly good at his various duties,” he said. “I’m personally skeptical about his achievements, and even in death, he was overreaching. He was out on the battlefield, surveying operations – and perhaps even leading them personally – despite his lack of military qualifications.”
“The vacuum that his death creates may present some problems for ISIS,” said Gartenstein-Ross. “But even if Adnani is replaced by more competent leadership, ISIS’ losses will continue for some time to come. That’s one consequence of fighting a war on about ten fronts.”
Bennett Seftel is the Deputy Director of Editorial at The Cipher Brief.

Source:The Cipher Brief

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