ISIL "mufti" killed in Iraq
Militant group ISIL has been engaged in a deadly battle with Iraq's forces and other splinter groups (File/AFP)
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A Saudi mufti with the Islamic State (IS or Daesh) has been killed in Iraq by the country’s armed forces, says an Iraqi news site, quoting an Iraqi military commander.
“Daesh mufti Abu Osama Al-Qahtani was killed inside a building in Baiji, Tikrit, along with four of his assistants in an air raid that targeted an IS meeting on Tuesday,” Lt. Gen. Ali Al-Freiji, commander in Saladin province, was quoted by Waradana as saying.
Al-Qahtani apparently succeeded another Saudi, Othman Al-Asiri, as mufti of the extremist Islamic State, after Al-Asiri was killed in Syria last year.
Al-Asiri, who had a Ph.D. in jurisprudence, was previously fired from the faculty of King Khalid University in Abha for sympathizing with the Al-Qaeda network. Al-Asiri had also been previously arrested in the Kingdom for killing seven people in a car accident.
Sources said Al-Asiri had joined IS and had held several training sessions for group members in Aleppo and Latakia prior to his death.
Earlier reports said a number of Saudi militants have quit the Islamic State movement after they were disillusioned with the group's activities.
Known previously as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the group had been engaged in a deadly rivalry with other Sunni groups fighting to topple the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Led by an ambitious Iraqi militant known as Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State group unilaterally declared the establishment of an Islamic state, or caliphate, in the lands it has seized in Syria and Iraq. It proclaimed Al-Baghdadi the head of its new self-styled state and demanded that all Muslims pledge allegiance to him.