High-ranking Islamic State leader, "oil minister" killed in firefight - Report | Eurasia Diary - ednews.net

17 February, Monday

High-ranking Islamic State leader, "oil minister" killed in firefight - Report

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A high-ranking Islamic State leader who allegedly masterminded the extremist group's half-billion-dollar oil smuggling enterprise has been killed in a firefight, according to Nine.com.au reports.

Thabit Sobhi Fahd Al-Ahmad, a self-styled minister of oil in the now dismantled so-called caliphate, was gunned down in his hideout by Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), according to a statement.

The SDF statement said the attack in Deir Al-Zor province, east of Syria, was carried out in cooperation with the US-led Coalition forces.

Ahmad was considered to have a close relationship with the elusive leader of IS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who remains at large - despite several reports in the past claiming he had been killed.

The smuggling of black market oil had been a lucrative cornerstone of the IS economy, which helped the group take over vast swathes of Iraq and Syria.

At its height, IS was believed to be making $700 million a year through black market oil sales into Europe, much of it believed to have been trafficked across the borders of a compliant Turkey.

Michael S. Smith II, a US-based terrorism analyst and teaching fellow in Johns Hopkins University's Global Security Studies program, described Ahmad as a "high value target"

But Smith urged the US government to further incentivise its coalition partners in Iraq and Syria to capture senior IS fugitives alive, for intelligence purposes.

"On one hand, [the reported killing of Ahmad] may prove a serious setback for the group. On the other, it probably would have been a bigger problem for Islamic State if he had been captured versus killed," Smith told

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