Isis’s deputy leader, Abu Alaa Afri, a former physics teacher who was thought to have taken charge of the deadly terrorist group, has been killed in a US-led coalition airstrike, it has been reported.
Afri, also known as Abdul Rahman Mustafa Mohamed, was killed by an air strike in Northern Iraq, the Iraqi ministry of defence has said.
Mohamed was reportedly killed inside a mosque in Tal Afar, while meeting dozens of other militants who also died in the strike, according to the BBC.
Charlie Winter, a researcher on jihadism in Syria and Iraq at the think tank Quilliam Foundation, tweeted a video uploaded online by the Iraqi ministry of defence, who claims it shows the moment the mosque was targeted in the airstrike.
It had been reported in recent weeks that Afri was in charge of the terrorist group after its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had been injured in an air strike.
Dr Hisham al Hashimi, an Iraqi government adviser, told Newweek at the time: “After Baghdadi’s wounding, [Afri] has begun to head up Daesh [the Arabic term for Isis] with the help of officials responsible for other portfolios,” he said. “He will be the leader of Daesh if Baghdadi dies.”
Isis leader al-Baghdadi is believed to have been left “incapacitated” by spinal injuries sustained during US air strike in Iraq, it was reported this month, though he is thought to have been wounded in March.
Afri was widely reported as having taken over operations in al-Baghdadi’s stead, though many have claimed it is unlikely the terrorist leader would have appointed a second-in-command.
The strike comes a week after the US state department issued an offer of a $7 million reward for information on Afri that would “bring him to justice”.
He had reportedly re-integrated himself into terrorist networks following his release from prison in 2012 and joined al-Qaeda in 2004, serving as the deputy of the Iraqi group’s leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Last year the U.S. Department of the Treasury had named Afri as a "specially designated global terrorist" for acting for or on behalf of Isis.
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