ALEPPO, Syria, Aug. 30 (UPI) — A senior Islamic State leader who had a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head has been killed in fighting in Syria, the Amaq News Agency reported Tuesday.
Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, who also acted as the group’s spokesman, was killed in the northern city of Aleppo, which had been an insurgent stronghold for months before government forces and other rebels retook control recently.
“Shaykh Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the spokesman of the Islamic State, was martyred while surveying the operations to repel the military campaigns in Aleppo,” the Amaq News Agency, the Islamic State’s official news outlet, said.
The 39-year-old Syrian was a major player in the Islamic State, officials have said, and was the subject of a $5 million reward offered by the U.S. Department of State.
U.S. officials did not immediately comment on the reported death of al-Adnani because it had yet to be independently verified.
“He is the main conduit for the dissemination of ISIL messages, including its declaration of ISIL’s creation of an Islamic caliphate. In public statements, al-Adnani has repeatedly called for attacks against Westerners and has vowed ‘defeat’ for the United States,” the State Department states on its website. “The U.S. Department of State designated al-Adnani as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist on August 18, 2014.”
Intelligence officials believe that in addition to acting as the group’s official representative, al-Adnani was also key in various planning details involving ISIS operatives and also had a hand in the gruesome execution videos the terror network often releases.
If true, al-Adnani’s death is a major victory for U.S. and coalition forces battling the Islamic State in Syria. In December, NBC News cited a senior American military official in reporting that al-Adnani was the ISIS member U.S. officials most wanted dead.
In his post as spokesman, al-Adnani was viewed as the face of the group’s efforts to recruit new members and inspire “lone wolf” attacks in the Western world.
In January, it was reported that al-Adnani was wounded in fighting in Syria and required a blood transfusion.