The number one target on the United States' ISIS hit list has been killed in Syria.
Fox News reports that Amaq, the terror group's news agency, has published a news release claiming that Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the chief ISIS spokesman who headed up the organization's propaganda arm, "was martyred while surveying the operations to repel the military campaigns in Aleppo." It remains unclear when or how Adnani died.
As the self-described caliphate's minister of propaganda, the 39-year-old played an integral role in messaging and recruitment strategy. The New York Times credited him with "hand-selecting" the execution videos the group has put out-presumably including that of James Foley, the release of which was a critical moment in the lead-up to the United States' engagement with ISIS.
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Adnani was also the most vocal figure in issuing calls-to-arms to potential lone wolves in the West. He once encouraged would-be operatives to, referring to a European neighbor, "smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car."
He also headed up an "elite fighting unit" of top ISIS recruiters, Fox reports, who would meet with him blindfolded so that as few people as possible would know what he looked like.
With all that influence, Adnani attracted much attention from the United States and its intelligence services. The State Department had a price of $5 million on his head. NBC News describes him as the terror group's number two, but in December, a senior intelligence source said that Adnani was the most wanted member of ISIS still at large-more so, even, than the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
According to NBC, Adnani is the third top ISIS official killed in the last six months. Finance minister Haji Iman and leader Omar al-Shishani are also now dead.
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[H/T: Fox News]
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