CNN reports that U.S. military officials believe they have racked up another major ISIS leadership kill with a drone strike in Syria, presumably launched from the Incirlik airbase in Turkey. The top deputy of the Islamic State’s “caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was taken out last week. The new target is British-born ISIS recruiter and hacker Junaid Hussain, who was linked to the gunmen who attacked the Mohammed Art Exhibit in Garland, Texas.
Hussain is described as “the most prolific of all of ISIS’ English-language propagandists” according to CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank, charged with maintaining the terror state’s social media network and sending encrypted messages to operatives around the world.
This was the capacity in which Hussain reportedly communicated with the Garland shooters, playing a role in in “private messaging to radicalize and inspire one of the gunmen to launch an attack,” according to CNN. This is most likely a reference to Elton Simpson, the more radical of the pair in most accounts, who was also active on social media.
Hussain is also said to have been involved in circulating the recent “hit list” of military and government personnel produced by the “Islamic State Hacking Division.”
CNN reports a “high level of confidence” from U.S. officials that Hussain was killed in a drone strike this week, but says one reason a formal announcement has not been made is “sensitivity about potential reaction in Muslim communities in the U.K.” over the killing of the British jihadi by American forces.