WASHINGTON — A top ISIS leader believed to be part of the slaying of an American aid worker was killed in a drone attack Sunday in a desert area of southeastern Syria, the Pentagon said Monday.
In a statement to reporters, Col. Sean Ryan said Abu al Umarayn — considered a senior member of ISIS — was killed by “precision strikes” in the Badiyah Desert.
Umarayn is accused of being involved in the beheading of U.S. aid worker and former U.S. Army Ranger Peter Kassig, as well as linked to the executions of several other prisoners, Ryan said in the statement.
“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,” Ryan, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition said in an emailed statement from Baghdad. “He has been linked to and directly involved with executing several other prisoners as a senior ISIS member.”
Umarayn is the first ISIS member to be named as having participated in Kassig’s murder. A video of the beheading was posted on Nov. 16, 2014, showing ISIS member “Jihadi John” standing over a severed head. The White House confirmed that Kassig had been killed.
“Jihadi John” was reportedly killed in an earlier U.S. air strike, the Pentagon told reporters in November 2015.
Kassig, 26, was captured in Syria in October 2013 while providing aid to Syrian refugees. He had formed an aid organization called Special Emergency Response and Assistance, or SERA, in Turkey to assist refugees, providing food and medical supplies and trauma care.
According to news reports quoting his friends, Kassig converted to Islam while in captivity