Special to WorldTribune.com
U.S. commandos have killed at least 40 senior operatives for Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), a report said.
Defense officials told The Daily Beast that among those killed by U.S. special operations forces have been “external operations leaders, planners, and facilitators” involved in ISIL attacks from Brussels and Paris to Egypt and Africa.
Among the top leaders taken out was ISIL second-in-command Haji Imam, who was killed in Syria in March.
U.S. special operations forces, including Delta Force, Navy SEALs and Green Berets, are mostly targeting ISIL operatives blamed for “external operations.” Officials said the terror group has carried out 60 attacks in 21 countries that have killed 1,000 people since January 2015.
The success of U.S. commandos and coalition airstrikes in Syria and Iraq has had a major impact on ISIL recruitment, with the influx of foreign fighters dropping from up to 2,000 a month last year to just 200 currently, the Pentagon said.
In December, U.S. forces killed Syrian-based ISIL member Charaffe al-Mouadan, who officials said had direct ties to Abdel Hamid Abaoud, the leader of the ISIL cell that attacked Paris in November. Mouadan was among an estimated 10 militants taken out in a spec-ops airstrike.
Abdul Kader Hakim, who the Pentagon referred to as an “external operations facilitator” and a forgery specialist with links to the Paris attack network, was killed in December in Mosul.
A handful of high-value ISIL targets were killed in spec-ops raids after they resisted arrest, the officials said.
Senior officials told The Daily Beast that some of the kills or attempted captures are not announced in order to see how ISIL responds.
“What are they doing, what are they saying, who are they communicating to? How do they backfill the missing operator?” an official said. “The point of such operations is to keep ISIL guessing.”