The US-led Coalition against Islamic State said Monday, December 3 that it killed a senior figure involved in the executions of an American aid worker and other Western hostages.
Abu al-Umarayn was involved in the November 2014 beheading of Peter Kassig, a former U.S. Army ranger who was doing volunteer humanitarian work when he was captured in 2013.
“He was killed and more information will be available after a full assessment,” Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve spokesperson Colonel Sean Ryan said in a statement issued after the Sunday strikes.
“Al Umarayn had given indications of posing an imminent threat to coalition forces and he was involved in the killing of American citizen and former U.S. Army Ranger, Peter Kassig,” he said.
Kassig, a trained medic, founded a non-governmental organization to assist Syrian refugees. He was captured near Deir Ezzor in Syria in October 2013 while delivering medical supplies.
Ryan said Umarayn had also been involved in the execution of several other prisoners.
It is the first time the coalition, which has been hunting down ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria since 2014, has announced the killing of an ISIS leader linked to Kassig’s death.
At the time of the execution, ISIS released a video showing Kassig’s severed head but did not publish footage of the decapitation, as it had done for other hostages.
Kassig, along with American journalists James Foley and Stephen Sotloff and British aid workers Alan Henning and David Haines, were killed by an ISIS cell dubbed “The Beatles” by their captives due to their heavy British accents.
The cell is also believed to have included Mohammed Emwazi – known as “Jihadi John” – who was killed in an air strike in 2015, and Aine Davis, who has been jailed in Turkey.
The surviving members, Alexanda Amon Kotey and El Shafee ElSheikh, were captured by the Syrian Democratic Forces earlier this year. In July, the U.K. ‘paused’ cooperation with the U.S. following concerns the two could face the death penalty if extradited to America.
It is believed that the U.K. has stripped Kotey and ElSheikh of their British citizenship.
With reporting from AFP