Islamic State spokesman and senior commander Abu Muhammad al-Adnani was killed near Aleppo, Syria, ISIS officials said on Tuesday. In a statement circulated by the Islamic State, the group said Adnani was “martyred while surveying the operations to repel the military campaigns against Aleppo” and threatened to avenge his death.
According to the BBC, Adnani “was one of the jihadist group’s longest-serving and most senior officials.” As a top-ranking lieutenant, he was responsible for coordinating attacks on the West and issuing ISIS propaganda. Adnani has largely been the voice of ISIS in the U.S. in recent years. He voiced dozens of YouTube sermons and influenced lone-wolf attackers. He is also said to have masterminded major terror attacks in Europe. He was the top-ranking Syrian in ISIS and was thought to be first in line to succeed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
It remains unclear whether Adnani, who had a $5 million bounty on his head, was killed in an airstrike or by ground forces. Adnani’s death will be the latest in a string of setbacks for ISIS, which has been on the retreat in Syria and Iraq after losing strongholds in Jarablus, Fallujah, and Ramadi last week. Rita Katz, the director of SITE Intelligence Group, called Adnani’s death a “major blow” to ISIS.