The U.S. government has increased the bounty for information that will lead to the capture or killing of the new leader of the Islamic State to $10 million.
Amir Mohammed Sa’id Abdal Rahman al-Mawla, also known as Hajji Abdallah, became the new leader of ISIS after his predecessor Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed during a U.S. Special Operations operation in October 2019.
The 46-year-old al-Mawla was a member of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), serving as a religious scholar. With the advent of ISIS, al-Mawla steadily rose through prominence to become a deputy emir (regional governor) before getting the top job in the battered terrorist group after al-Baghdadi’s death. His past as a religious scholar meant that al-Mawla has been a protagonist in the creation, through religious edicts, of the ideology that ISIS utilized to justify a number of its crimes.
“This reward is an important moment in our fight against ISIS and its branches and networks around the world. As ISIS is defeated on the battlefield, we are determined to identify and find the group’s leaders so that the global coalition of nations fighting to defeat ISIS can continue to destroy ISIS remnants and thwart its global ambitions,” stated the State Department announcement.
Al-Mawla has been a leading voice in the prosecution, genocide, and trafficking of the Yazidis, a religious minority located in the northwest of Iraq. Al-Mawla, moreover, has managed and led a number of terrorist operations outside Iraq and Syria.
The bounty is offered through the State Department’s Rewards for Justice program. The initial bounty, $5 million, was set in August 2019. Last March, al-Mawla was designated a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. As a result, the terrorist leader’s property and interests have been sanctioned and U.S. citizens are prohibited from making any transaction with him.
Although ISIS has been defeated as a major ground threat, small pockets of resistance and sleeper cells still exist and pose a significant danger in the fragile region. More dangerous, however, is the poisonous ideology of the terrorist organization and its ability to motivate individuals and groups to acts of extremism around the world.
Al-Baghdadi, the previous leader, was killed in a daring operation. During the mission, an assault element comprised of Delta Force operators and Rangers from the 75th Ranger Regiment raided the compound in which al-Baghdadi was hiding in Syria. After a brief firefight, the ISIS leader detonated a suicide vest, killing himself and a number of his own children.
The Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) raid was named Operation Kayla Muller after the American humanitarian aid worker who caught, raped, and killed by ISIS in 2015.