'Emir of suicide bombers' killed

Police officers observing a national minute of silence for victims of the attacks in Tunisia a week ago at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London yesterday. SEE WORLD A42
Police officers observing a national minute of silence for victims of the attacks in Tunisia a week ago at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London yesterday. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON • A senior leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group known as the "emir of suicide bombers" has been killed in a coalition air strike in Syria, the Pentagon said on Thursday.

Tariq bin Tahar al-Awni al-Harzi was killed in the northern city of Shaddadi on June 16, Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis said in a statement.

His brother Ali, an ISIS recruiter and person of interest in the deadly 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi in Libya, was killed by an air strike in Iraq on June 15.

Washington had put a US$3 million (S$4 million) bounty on the head of the 33-year-old Harzi, a Tunisian.

As of late 2013, Harzi was a key figure in suicide and car bombings in Iraq, the US says.

The Pentagon said that his killing was a significant blow to the militant group.

"His death will impact ISIL's ability to integrate foreign terrorist fighters into the Syrian and Iraqi fight as well as to move people and equipment across the border between Syria and Iraq," Navy Captain Davis said, using an alternative acronym for the group.

The Pentagon said Harzi was also "responsible for moving people and material into Syria and Iraq" and also raised funds to recruit fighters and facilitate travel.

In addition, he supported ISIS by procuring and shipping weapons from Libya to Syria, where the militants have taken large swathes of territory.

He also worked to help raise funds from Gulf-based donors for ISIS, the United States says, including about US$2 million from a Qatar-based facilitator.

According to a jihadist profile, Harzi was freed from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq during an ISIS raid in July 2013, CNN reported.

In May, a US Army Delta Force raid in eastern Syria killed Abu Sayyaf, who US officials said was in charge of oil and gas financing for the militant group, as well as other operations.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2015, with the headline ''Emir of suicide bombers' killed'. Print Edition | Subscribe