Senior Islamic State leader Tariq bin Tahar al-‘Awni al-Harzi has been killed by a coalition airstrike in Syria, according to a statement from the Pentagon. Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis reported that al-Harzi was killed in Shaddadi on June 16. He is believed to be one of the first foreign fighters to join ISIS. He was freed from Abu Ghraib prison during an ISIS raid in July 2013, according to a jihadist profile.
The military joint task force coordinating the operations in Iraq and Syria reported conducting four airstrikes at locations in Syria that day. Two of the airstrikes occurred near Al Hasakah, which is near Shaddadi. A senior U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity said that there were no reports of any civilian casualties in the operation. ISIS has also established a foothold in Libya and gained affiliates in Nigeria and Egypt.
According to authorities, al-Harzi, a Tunisian, was suspected of being responsible for moving fighters and weapons from Libya to Syria. He was also suspected of coordinating suicide bombing attacks in Iraq. The Tunisian was seen as a key logistical part of the group’s efforts to get jihadists and weapons into the militant organization’s war machine. The death of al-Harzi will hamper the ability of ISIS to move foreign fighters back and forth across the region.
According to a Treasury Department designation, al-Harzi is considered to be a global terrorist. Last September, al-Harzi and seven other individuals were named in a document from the U.S. Treasury Department imposing economic sanctions on them for helping finance or facilitate the movement of foreign fighters for the Islamic State and the Nusra Front. The State Department had offered a $3 million reward for information on him.