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Iraqi Kurdistan’s security forces arrest senior ISIL figure after 5-year stay in Turkey

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Iraqi Kurdistan’s security forces announced on Friday the capture of Soqrat Khalil Ismail, a senior Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) figure who allegedly was a confidant of the late ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Rudaw news website and Reuters reported.

“After spending five years in Turkey, Ismail returned to Kurdistan with a forged passport and was swiftly apprehended,” a statement by the Kurdish Regional Security Council (KRSC)  said.

Ismail, 37, also known within ISIL as Abdullah the Explosive, was responsible for making bombs and was entrusted by al-Baghdadi with various major operations. He played a key role in the 2014 ISIL takeover of Mosul and participated in numerous battles against Iraqi and Peshmerga forces, according to the statement.

In a video confession, Ismail recounted his involvement in the 2014 Mosul invasion, led by a commander named Abu Lais. Following ISIL’s territorial defeat in 2017, he moved to Syria, holding various security positions.

In 2018 Ismail returned to Mosul with a fake passport to retrieve $5 million ISIL had hidden. After delivering the money to ISIL leaders in Baghdad, he traveled to Turkey using another fake passport. He remained in Turkey for five years before attempting to return to Iraq, where he was eventually captured by Kurdish security forces.

ISIL, which seized large areas of Iraq in 2014, was expelled in 2017 by Iraqi and Kurdish fighters, supported by a US-led coalition. Despite losing its territory, ISIL continues to pose a security threat with attacks and abductions, particularly in areas disputed between the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

The Iraqi government has declared ISIL no longer a public security threat as the group has been contained. Baghdad is now in discussions with the United States to reduce the global mission against ISIL in Iraq. The Pentagon’s latest report on the anti-ISIL mission, released in February, indicated that while ISIL is largely contained, it continues to exploit security gaps and conduct sporadic attacks.

Turkey has been the target of numerous ISIL attacks since the group was declared a terrorist organization in 2013. Various bombings and armed attacks have killed 315 people and injured hundreds.

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