Iraqi police arrested a key deputy of deceased Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Tuesday in the town of Hawija in Kirkuk province.
Abu Khaldoun, who was carrying a fake ID at the time of his capture, was the terrorist group's military commander for Salah al-Din province, according to Iraq's Security Media Cell communications body.
Al-Baghdadi was killed in a U.S. military operation in Syria, officials announced on Oct. 27. Al-Baghdadi had been a top target for the U.S. under both the Trump and Obama administrations and had a $25 million bounty on his head.
Following his killing, U.S. President Donald Trump said the U.S. military raid that took out al-Baghdadi is a bigger deal than the 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden during the Obama administration.
A senior Iraqi security official told The Associated Press that Iraqi intelligence played a part in the operation. Al-Baghdadi and his wife detonated explosive vests they were wearing during the U.S. commando operation, according to the official, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the sensitive information and spoke on condition of anonymity. He added that other Daesh leaders were killed in the attack.
Al-Baghdadi's terrorist fighters captured a contiguous stretch of territory across Iraq and Syria, including key cities, and in June 2014, it announced its own state. Al-Baghdadi declared he was the "caliph" of the Daesh terrorist group. Under his leadership, the group became known for macabre massacres and beheadings – often posted online on militant websites – and strict adherence to an extreme and erroneous interpretation of Islamic law.
In June 2014, Daesh took control of more than a third of Iraqi territory, particularly in northern Mosul and western Anbar provinces. Iraqi security forces managed to recapture most Daesh-held territory by December 2017, at which time Baghdad declared that Daesh's military presence in Iraq had been eradicated.
But the terrorists have adapted their tactics to insurgent-style attacks since they were defeated and driven out of areas they controlled for years. Although the threat of Daesh attacks in city centers has lessened, the terror group continues to carry out attacks in rural areas.
The Iraqi army continues to carry out frequent operations against Daesh "sleeper cells," which it says remain active in certain parts of the country.