An Islamic State leader with “direct” ties to the alleged mastermind of the Paris attacks was among 10 of the group’s higher-ups killed in Syria and Iraq this month, the Pentagon said on Tuesday, reported AFP.
According to CNN, Col. Steve Warren said 10 senior ISIS leaders operating in both Iraq and Syria, “including several external attack planners,” with designs on attacking western targets, had been killed in airstrikes.
Charaffe al Mouadan, a Syrian-based member of ISIS with a “direct link” to Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the Belgian-born ringleader of the terror attacks in Paris, was killed in a December 24 airstrike, and was “actively planning additional attacks against the West,” Warren said.
Abaaoud was killed in a police raid in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis last month and had direct contacts, the coalition said, with al Mouadan before the attacks took place, which killed more than 120 people.
A French law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP there was no immediate evidence showing Mouadan was involved in the Paris attacks.
The official said Mouadan had been close to Samy Amimour, one of the suicide bombers that attacked the Bataclan music venue, and he also knew Omar Ismail Mostefai, another one of the attackers.
Mouadan (26) was the son of Morocco-born parents and the last of eight children. He grew up in the suburbs of Paris, and was arrested in October 2012 while getting ready to leave with two neighborhood friends for either Yemen or Afghanistan, via Somalia, said a source close to the investigation.
The United States has since August 2014 led an international coalition attacking the IS group in Iraq and Syria.
France started bombing Syria in the wake of the Paris attacks that left 130 dead in a series of coordinated assaults across the city, but Col. Warren would not say if France was involved in the strike against Mouadan.
Among the other leaders killed this month was Abdel Kader Hakim, an “external operations facilitator” who was killed in Mosul, Iraq on December 26. Col. Warren said Hakim was a veteran fighter and forgery specialist who had links to the Paris attack network, but he did not give additional details.
“His death removes an important facilitator with many connections in Europe,” Col. Warren said.