Five ISIS leaders have been arrested in Iraq in an operation executed by the Iraqi National Intelligence Agency. The arrested individuals are considered amongst the most important leaders in the militant group.
The Iraqi National Intelligence Agency (INIA) has announced the arrest of five prominent ISIS leaders that were lured into Iraq from Syria as part of Operation 732.
The three month long Operation 732 involved using the previously captured ISIS leader, Ismail al-Eithawy, to lure four high-ranking ISIS leaders into Iraqi territory for a meeting, which was arranged using an app developed by the militant group.
Al-Eithawy, an Iraqi national, was arrested in the Turkish city of Sakarya after being traced from Syria in a joint Iraqi-Turkish operation. Al-Eithawy, who was a close aid to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and was in charge of issuing the militant group’s religious rulings, or fatwas, was deported back to Iraq as part of the arrest operation.
During weeks of interrogation by the INIA, al-Eithawy’s cooperation with the intelligence officers led to the four ISIS leaders being deceived into crossing the Iraqi border, who were then arrested by the Iraqi Security Forces.
The arrested ISIS leaders include: Saddam al-Jamal, head of ISIS’ security; Abdul Qadir al-Zawbai (also known as Abu Abdul-Haq al-Human), commander of the “strike force”; Mohammed Hussain al-Qadeer, commander of the Mayadin region; and Omar al-Karbouly.
Further information provided by al-Eithawy also facilitated Iraq’s unprecedented airstrike against ISIS last month in the group’s pocket of territory that lies adjacent to the Iraqi border. The attack was launched against a war meeting being held by the group, reportedly killing 4o militants, including six high-ranking leaders.
The arrests are a serious blow to the militant group’s battlefield capabilities, who have lost almost all of the territory they once controlled across Syria and Iraq. In Syria, recent operations by the the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies have reduced the militant group’s control of the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in south Damascus, as well as the group’s territory in the central Syrian desert, by an estimated 50%. Furthermore, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have restarted the Jazeera Storm operation in eastern Syria to recapture the group’s remaining territory.