Erbil, Iraq — Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi announced on Monday the capture of one of the top leaders of ISIS. Al-Kadhimi said in a Twitter post that Sami Jasim al-Jaburi, the former deputy of the terror group and its head of finance, was detained in a third country, which he declined to name, by Iraqi intelligence forces in a "complex external operation."
Al-Jaburi, born in Iraq in 1973, was a deputy to slain ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and is believe to have remained close to the group's current commander Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi.
Al-Jaburi was designated as a terrorist by the U.S. government and there was a $5 million reward on offer from the State Department for information leading to his arrest.
The Iraqi government considers al-Jaburi a key figure within the terrorist organization. After joining ISIS in the early days following its split from al Qaeda, he played a central role in building ISIS' de-facto state as it seized a huge swathe of territory spanning the Iraq-Syria border between 2014 and 2018.
Iraqi political analyst and security expert Fadhil Abu Ragheef told CBS News that al-Jaburi was a trusted deputy to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the former ISIS leader who was killed in a U.S. raid in Syria in 2019.
He was arrested by U.S. forces in 2005 and spent five years in a U.S.-run prison in Iraq. Following his release in 2011, al-Jaburi re-joined al Qaeda in Iraq, but in 2014 he joined ISIS. Abu Ragheef said al-Jaburi looked after much of the terror group's administration, security and finance before rising to become al-Baghdadi's deputy and the head of finance for ISIS.
"After ISIS territories were liberated, al-Jaburi escaped the region and smuggled himself to eastern Europe, but he returned to the region after he failed to smuggle his family to Europe," Abu Ragheef told CBS News.
An Iraqi intelligence officer told CBS News that al-Jaburi's arrest would send an important message to ISIS' remaining leaders — that Iraq's security forces can penetrate their networks and find them, no matter where they're hiding.
The intelligence official added that al-Jaburi's arrest would provide insight into how ISIS funds its operations and who the group's supporters are around the world.
ISIS once controlled about a third of Iraq and Syria, and it used that base to plan and orchestrate terrorist attacks in Europe. U.S. forces and their allies beat back the group to reclaim its territory in both countries early in 2019, but it still has active cells in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere.
The ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan is one of the most serious security concerns in that country — both for its new Taliban rulers, and the United States and its allies.
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