Abu Sayyaf (ISIL)

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This article is about the Islamist leader killed in 2015. For the Filipino Islamist group, see Abu Sayyaf. For other uses, see Abu Sayyaf (disambiguation).
 Abu Sayyaf Abu Alaa al Afri, allegedly died May 16, 2015
Abu Sayyaf Abu Alaa al Afri, allegedly died May 16, 2015
 Abu Sayyaf Mohammed al Shalabi al Saudi allegedly died May 16, 2015.
Abu Sayyaf Mohammed al Shalabi al Saudi allegedly died May 16, 2015.

Fathi ben Awn ben Jildi Murad al-Tunisi (Arabic: فتحي بن عون بن الجليدي مراد التونسي‎), better known by the nom de guerre Abu Sayyaf (Arabic: أبو سيّاف‎),[1] was reportedly a high level commander of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, Islamic State, ISIS) who had a senior role in overseeing the gas and oil operations that have been a key source of the group's revenue.[2]

American sources say Abu Sayyaf, reportedly a Tunisian, was killed on the night of May 15–16, 2015 while resisting capture during a United States Army Delta Force operation in eastern Syria.[3] The operation was conducted to try to capture him and his wife on suspicion of their involvement in, or "deep knowledge" of, Islamic State hostage operations. Kayla Mueller is reported to have been a "personal captive" of Abu Sayyaf.[4] U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said no U.S. soldiers were killed or injured during the operation.

It was the first direct action ground raid targeting the terrorist group by U.S. soldiers inside Syria. (a previous U.S. ground operation in Syria was a rescue mission). Items, including several terabytes of data from laptops, cellphones and other material, were recovered from the scene and exploited for intelligence purposes.[5][6][7] More information was collected in the raid than any other in United States special operations forces history.[8] Among the objects found there are archaeological finds, which prove the involvement of IS in illicit antiquities trade.[9] The operation was launched from Iraq, with the "full consent of Iraqi authorities."[10]

A senior administration official said that the administration had assessed it likely that Abu Sayyaf was in direct contact with Islamic State leader and self-proclaimed caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.[11]

Abu Sayyaf's wife, known by the nom de guerre Umm Sayyaf and said to be an Islamic State member, was captured during the operation. A young Yazidi woman who appeared to be held as a slave of the couple was freed.[2][10]


  1. ^ Starr, Barbara; Conlon, Kevin (May 19, 2015). "U.S. names ISIS commander killed in raid". CNN. Retrieved May 19, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Statement by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter on Counter-ISIL Operation in Syria, U.S. Department of Defense, May 16, 2015 
  3. ^ Starr, Barbara (May 16, 2015). "Abu Sayyaf, key ISIS figure in Syria, killed in U.S. raid". CNN. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  4. ^ Naylor, Sean (May 22, 2015). "Exclusive: American Hostage Passed on Chance to Escape". Foreign Policy. Retrieved May 22, 2015. 
  5. ^ "U.S. Special Forces Kill Senior ISIS Leader in Syria, Capture His Wife", The Wall Street Journal, May 16, 2015 
  6. ^ "Hearing on U.S. Strategy in the Middle East", C-SPAN, October 28, 2015 
  7. ^ "A Raid on ISIS Yields a Trove of Intelligence", The New York Times, June 8, 2015 
  8. ^ "Coalition Efforts Against ISIL", United States Department of State, November 20, 2015 
  9. ^ http://eca.state.gov/gallery/isil-leaders-loot-photo-gallery ISIL Leader’s Loot Photo Gallery
  10. ^ a b Statement by NSC Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan on Counter-ISIL Operation in Syria, The White House, May 16, 2015, archived from the original on 2015-07-01, We suspect that Umm Sayyaf is a member of ISIL, played an important role in ISIL’s terrorist activities, and may have been complicit in the enslavement of the young woman rescued last night. 
  11. ^ "Slain ISIS Leader Abu Sayyaf Was a Little-Known, but High-Value Target", NBC News, May 16, 2015