US offers SS$7 million reward for information on ISIS foreign fighter smuggler

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States issued a US$5 million (S$7 million) reward on Wednesday (Nov 18) for information leading to the capture of a Saudi-born jihadist accused of smuggling foreign fighters into Syria.

The State Department said that Tirad al-Jarba, known under the nom de guerre Abu Muhammad al-Shimali, is a senior member of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) extremist group.

He had already been designated a terrorist by the US and the United Nations Security Council, which has imposed a travel ban on him and ordered his assets frozen.

According to his UN sanctions listing, he is 35 years old and will turn 36 on Friday. He is said to be from Saudi Arabia and to have been a former Al-Qaeda member.

The State Department wanted notice issued on Wednesday describes him as the ISIS leader in the Syrian border town of Jarablus, opposite the Turkish town of Gaziantep.

From there he is said to arrange passage for foreign ISIS fighters from Australia, Europe and the broader Middle East, while managing a recruitment centre in Azaz.

Jarba's name was added to the "Rewards for Justice" programme as Turkey and the United States were preparing a major operation to secure the border near Jarablus.

And it comes as the French aircraft carrier De Gaulle steams towards the region to step up strikes against ISIS in the wake of last week's foreign fighter attacks in Paris.