US confirms Daesh computer expert killed in air strike

Washington - Junaid Hussain of Birmingham, England, was killed on August 24 by a US military air strike on the Daesh stronghold of Raqqah.

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By Agencies

Published: Sun 30 Aug 2015, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 30 Aug 2015, 2:00 AM

The US military confirmed on Friday that a British hacker who was one of the Daesh movement's top computer experts and active in encouraging people abroad to carry out "lone wolf" attacks was killed in Syria by a US air strike.
Junaid Hussain of Birmingham, England, was killed on August 24 by a US military air strike on the Daesh stronghold of Raqqah, said Air Force Colonel Pat Ryder, a spokesman for US Central Command.
Hussain had been involved in "actively recruiting Daesh sympathisers in the west to carry out 'lone wolf' style attacks," Ryder said, using an acronym for the militant group that has seized large parts of Syria and Iraq.
Hussain was responsible for releasing personal information of around 1,300 US military and government employees in recent weeks, and "sought to encourage" attacks against them, US officials said.
One official said Hussain had also been linked to the release of the names, addresses and photos of 100 US service members on an Daesh website in March.
Another official said that Washington had evidence that Hussain was in contact with two men who were shot dead when they tried to attack a cartoon contest in Garland, Texas in early May.
Daesh claimed in a radio message after the shooting that the two men were "brothers" connected to the group.
The attack on Hussain was the second killing of a senior Daesh figure by US forces in the last 10 days. Daesh second-in-command was killed in a US air strike near Mosul, Iraq, on August 18.
The strike that killed Hussain was among the first directed specifically at an individual involved mainly in Daesh's extensive cyber and social media campaigns.
But US and European officials stressed that Hussain had also played a larger operational role within Daesh , helping target attacks, recruiting and logistics.
"This individual was very dangerous. He had significant technical skills, and he had expressed a strong desire to kill Americans, and recruit others to kill Americans," Ryder said.
US officials said Daesh efforts at hacking into computer systems have largely been quite primitive.
But its use of social media to promote its cause and recruit and inspire foreign fighters to join IS in Syria or carry out attacks in their own countries has been effective.
Hussain left Britain to join Daesh some time in the last two years. He was jailed in Britain in 2012 for hacking former prime minister Tony Blair's address book from an account maintained by a Blair adviser. Meanwhile, Western-backed Kurdish fighters freed seven villages from the clasps of the Daesh group in northern Iraq in recent days, the United States-led coalition battling the militants said on Friday.
But the extremists still control broad swathes of land in the war-torn country, where the Daesh group has waged a terrifying and deadly offensive of forced religious conversions and beheadings.
Bolstered by United States-led coalition airstrikes, the Peshmerga fighters wrestled back more than 200 square kilometres near the town of Tuz since August 26, the Combined Joint Task Force said.
total of 25 strikes, helping the Kurdish forces in "liberating seven villages," a statement said on Friday.
Elsewhere in Iraq, the situation remains more static, a spokesman for the United States military's Central Command (Centcom) said. 

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