- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 1, 2017

The founder of the Islamic State’s Amaq news agency, one of the terror groups largest and most popular online propaganda outlets, was killed during a U.S. airstrike in eastern Syria Thursday.

Agency founder Baraa Kadek was reportedly en route to a meeting with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the terror group known as ISIS or ISIL, in the town of Mayadeen near the group’s territory in Deir el-Zour province when he was killed, The Associated Press reported.

Pentagon officials say top Islamic State leaders, including al-Baghdadi, have begun to flee to safe havens in and around Deir-i-Zour, as U.S.-backed Syrian forces close in on the group’s self-styled capital of Raqqa.

Amaq News Agency is the go-to social medial outlet for claims of credit for terror attacks carried out by the Islamic State and its sympathizers since the terror group rose to power in the Mideast two years ago.

It was via Amaq News that the Islamic State claimed credit for 22-year-old Salman Abedi’s suicide attack suicide bomber who unleashed the horror that killed 22 people and injured dozens of others a pop concert in the city of Manchester earlier this month.

The bombing was the worst terrorist strike to hit the United Kingdom since the infamous July 7, 2005, bombings. The so-called 7/7 attacks by al Qaeda operatives targeted buses and subway stations in central London, leaving 56 dead and over 700 wounded.

In its claim of responsibility for Manchester via Amaq news, the Islamic State claimed the attack was in response “transgressions against the lands of the Muslims,” hinting at the U.K.’s role in the U.S.-led coalition fighting in Iraq and Syria against the terror group

Mr. Kadek originally developed the news portal as a way to advocate for moderate Syrian rebels battling to overthrow President Bashar Assad. He later joined the Islamic State in 2013, and morphed the news outlet into the terror group’s biggest and loudest propaganda mouthpiece in the cyber realm.

Aside from posting claims of credit, Islamic State leaders would use the site to distribute slickly produced, highly violent propaganda videos reinforcing the group’s global image across the Middle East and elsewhere, reinforcing and cultivating the message of Islamic State’s so-called caliphate.

• Carlo Muñoz can be reached at cmunoz@washingtontimes.com.

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