ISIS’ finance minister was killed during an operation this week, defense officials announced Friday, a major score for the U.S.-led coalition as it tries to erode the terror group’s grip on the region.
In addition to the death of Haji Imam, the Pentagon confirmed the killing of another top leader — Omar al-Shishani — in an earlier operation.
“Striking leadership is necessary, but it’s far from efficient,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said at a news conference, adding that the U.S. is “systematically eliminating” ISIS’ cabinet.
“Leaders can be replaced, however, these leaders have been around for a long time,” Carter said. “They are senior. They’re experienced. So eliminating them is an important objective and achieves an important result.”
Haji Imam — whose real name is Abd al-Rahman Muhammad Mustafa al-Qaduli — was widely reported as a senior leader and second in command in the organization.
Carter, however, declined to provide further details about the operations, and didn’t immediately confirm where and when exactly the efforts to kill Haji Imam took place.
Haji Imam oversaw and steered ISIS’ funding through its networks, Carter said. He also reportedly managed the day to day operations for ISIS and its affiliates in Syria, Iraq and Libya, and was also the main link to shadowy ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who currently has minimal communication with the organization.
The confirmed deaths of Imam and al-Shishani present a key gain in ticking off some of the biggest names on the U.S.’s terror hit list and comes on the heels of terror attacks in Brussels that claimed at least 31 lives and wounded over 270 others.