Doubt Cast On Role of Killed ISIS Money Man

Update: Door Number Three: Abu Sayyaf, aka Mohammed Shalabi, is said to be a Jordanian Salafist leader . More here.

Update: The Syrians say it launched a raid at the same place -- the al Omar oil fields in Deir Ezzor -- and killed ISIS' oil minister. The Syrians say he is a Saudi (not Tunisian as the U.S. claims) named Abu al-Taym al-Saudi,.

So both the Syrians and the U.S. launched independent raids at the same time and place and both killed an IS financial leader? This is not making sense.

The U.S. says it didn't coordinate with Syria. And no one has heard of "Abu Sayyaf", the name the U.S. originally provided.

The name Abu Sayyaf has rarely been mentioned in Western reports about the extremist group and he is not known to be among terrorists for whom the U.S. has offered a bounty. The name was not known to counterterrorism officials who study IS and does not appear in reports compiled by think tanks and others examining the group's hierarchy.

Now there are reports he is also known as "Abu Muhammad al Iraqi" and "Abd al Ghani."[More...]

White House National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in its statement:

Meehan said the operation was conducted “with the full consent of Iraqi authorities” and “consistent with domestic and international law.”

Why would the U.S.need Iraqi permission to conduct a raid in Syria? Why would the U.S. launch its second commando raid ever in Syria to gather intelligence on a mid level accountant and deceased hostages? Why is the U.S. using an obviously fake pseudonym for him?

ISIS took the al Omar oil field from al Nusra on July 3, 2014, in an operation led by Chechen IS military commander Omar al-Shishani. There were videos at the time of IS fighters saying al-Nusra "fled like rats."

The U.S. launched its failed raid on the area to rescue American hostages around the same time.

Meehan also said today the goal of the raid was to gather info about the hostages

The goal was to gain intelligence about IS operations and any information about hostages, including American citizens, who were held by the group, according to Bernadette Meehan, spokeswoman for the U.S. National Security Council.

ABC says she is referring to Kayla Mueller.

Original Postt:

The U.S. killed ISIS money man Abu Sayyaf in a raid near Deir Ezzor. Some media report he is a top IS leader. The Guardian casts doubt on his role.

The name Abu Sayyaf has not been on lists of top-line Isis leaders and he is not known to have had a price put on his head for his death or capture – unlike at least 10 other men who form the nucleus of the group’s leadership. His lack of profile led to speculation on Saturday among Iraqi officials and western diplomats in the region that the target of the raid may have been a more senior figure.

“He was very close to Adnani,” said a Baghdad-based specialist on Isis, Hisham al-Hashimi, referring to the chief spokesman of the group, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani. “They were together often.”

Were they after ISIS chief spokesman al-Adnani and missed?

Iraq says Abu Sayyaf's real name is Nabil Saddiq Abu Saleh al-Jabouri.

A Tunisian, Abu Sayyaf was part of the IS' black-market oil selling program. He was a mid-level leader. One analyst says he is comparable to Al Capone's accountant. Another says:

Sayyaf's position has gone from ISIS Oil Minister to CFO to Senior Command & Control Guy to Chief Hostage/Slave Taker to creator of internet

...Remember Ramadi is falling to ISIS - Sayyaf news is equivalent to Jennifer Anniston ruining another relationship

As for his wife, contrary to speculation, she will not be going to Gitmo, according to Pentagon acting chief spokesman Col. Steve Warren.

“No one’s going to Gitmo,” Warren told the Guardian.

It does seem the U.S was hoping for a bigger fish, but they got away before the U.S. arrived. Was the PR value of Abu Sayyaf's killing and hype of his importance worth the disclosure of the existence of the mission? Not according to this analyst, with whom several others are in agreement:

The SOF raid against Sayyaf is employed for a Tier 1 HVT - Sayyaf was a T2-T3 HVT. Result: Tier 1 guys just relocated & tossed cell phones

When WH "Spikes The Football" for a Tier II target - you quiet a network & Tier 1 guys go to the mattresses - PR not worth intel value lost

Even if raid resulted in capture of Top ISIS HVT - the actionable intelligence cycle is killed when details are released w/n hours of raid

As for his wife, the U.S. says she may have been involved with the "enslavement" of one Yazidi woman who was rescued from the Sayyaf residence during the raid. There's no claim by the U.S. she was a recruiter of multiple Yazidis.

< Jury Sentences Tsarnaev to Death on Some Counts | Loss of Ramadi >
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