Iraqi security forces have captured a senior member of the Islamic State group who was a deputy to slain leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and oversaw its finances, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi said on Monday.
Sami Jasim was detained in “a complex external operation” by Iraqi intelligence services, Kadhimi wrote on Twitter, without giving further details or saying where he had been captured.
Jasim, an Iraqi national, is one of the Islamic State’s core leaders who may offer valuable information on the group’s operations, said Hassan Hassan, an expert on the group. He is only the second senior IS leader to be taken alive, he said.
Baghdadi, who declared himself the leader of a cross-border “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq in 2014, was killed in an operation by U.S. special forces in northwestern Syria in 2019.
While Islamic State was driven out of most of the territory it once held in Syria and Iraq several years ago, Western military officials estimate that it still has at least 10,000 fighters across the two countries, typically in remote areas.
Hassan, author of a book on Islamic State and editor in chief of New Lines Magazine, said Jasim is a member of Islamic State’s top leadership council, the delegated committee, which has between half a dozen and a dozen members and is a close aide of the group’s leader, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Quraishi.
His role had expanded from the overseer of the group’s finances to coordinating activities between Iraq and Syria, Hassan said.
“He is involved in the day to day operations of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, so strategically and tactically, this is a significant capture for the Iraqis,” he told Reuters.