- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 5, 2016

A senior Islamic State operative and his wife accused of plotting attacks in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom were killed during an American airstrike in Syria last month.

Abu Sa‘ad al-Sudani, a Sudanese national also known as Abu Isa Al Amriki, was reportedly an “external attack planner” for the Islamic State terror group, or ISIS or ISIL, and also a key recruiter for the terror group Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said on Thursday.

Al-Sudani’s wife, Australian Shadi Jabar Khalil Mohammad, was also killed during the U.S. airstrike that took place on April 22 outside the northern Syrian district of al Bab roughly 30 miles northeast of Aleppo, Mr. Cook said.

“The death of al-Sudani and Shadi remove influential ISIL recruiters and extremists who actively sought to harm Western interests and further disrupts and degrades ISIL’s ability to plot external attacks.” Mr. Cook told reporters at the Pentagon.

Mr. Cook repeatedly declined to confirm whether al-Sudani was actively plotting to strike targets within U.S. borders or to attack U.S. targets overseas. However, he did note that any delay in executing the airstrike could have allowed al-Sudani to possibly prepare for an attack within the U.S.

“We are satisfied that they posed a threat to the United States and that we were able to strike before, perhaps, this plotting reached the point that it posed a specific threat inside the United States,” he said.

Mr. Cook also declined to comment on whether local forces on the ground in Syria provided intelligence on al-Sudani that led to the April airstrike.

“We’re satisfied that they were plotting against U.S. interests, Western interests and also countries in addition to the United States,” he said regarding the attack.

President Obama ordered 250 U.S. special operations forces and military advisers into Syria in late April, to coordinate efforts to retake Raqqa with the Syrian-Arab Coalition, a 5,000-man unit under the Syrian Democratic Forces, Pentagon officials say.

Recent reports on U.S. estimates of allied rebel groups in Syria place their force strength at roughly 3,000 to 8,000 fighters, with American trainers looking to increase that number to 15,000. The Pentagon declined to comment on those estimates, but the American mission in Syria remains focused on “amping up the pressure … [and] speed up the overall timeline” for a Syrian-led offensive on Raqqa, Mr. Cook said in an April 25 briefing at the Pentagon.

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