Iraqi forces on Monday (April 9th) killed a senior "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) leader, whom experts describe as one of the group's highest ranking and most dangerous remaining leaders.
Abu Waleed al-Shishani, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's "right arm", was killed in a desert area south of Kirkuk, the Iraqi Ministry of Interior said.
Four of his aides also were killed in a security operation which aimed at cracking down on ISIS elements in al-Humairat area in al-Rashad, it said.
Al-Shishani, whose full identity remains unknown, is considered to be al-Baghdadi’s adviser and was the mastermind of most terror attacks in the province of Kirkuk, according to media reports.
"An invaluable trove of documents and records" were found in al-Shishani’s possession, security expert Fadel Abu Ragheef told Diyaruna on Friday (April 13th).
"This terrorist kept a huge amount of information on ISIS leaders’ names and remaining cells, and on the group's secret activities and structure," he said.
The information was "stored on a total of 34 RAM cards," said Abu Ragheef.
Leaders 'falling one after the other'
Al-Shishani’s killing is "another powerful stab in terrorism’s heart", he said.
ISIS is using its remaining leaders to run its sleeper cells and launch swift attacks, he said, but even those are "falling one after the other".
The group in the past two months has lost at least 42 of its new leaders, who had replaced those who were killed during the operations to oust ISIS from Iraq, he said.
In late March, international coalition aircraft struck senior ISIS leader Ismail Mohammed Abboud Qadi al-Issawi, also known as Abu Hisham, as he drove his car near al-Dabaa in the desert surrounding al-Rutba.
Abu Hisham had taken part in many attacks in Baghdad and the southern provinces, and was a key leader in ISIS’s so-called Southern Province.
The killing of al-Shishani and other terror leaders is a clear indicator of Iraqi forces' effective intelligence activity, Kirkuk provincial council member Maan Mohammed told Diyaruna.
Many ISIS leaders and elements were killed during the battle to liberate the city of al-Hawijah and the areas surrounding it, including al-Rashad, he said.
"Those who survived fled and took cover in secret hideouts," he added.
ISIS remnants today are not safe and their elimination is only a matter of time, Mohammed said, stressing that Iraqi intelligence services are effective and are receiving "great support from the local population".