Saudi-led Coalition in Yemen Announces Capture of Islamic State Leader in Yemen

Saudi special forces, with assistance from the United States, have captured the leader of the Yemeni branch of the Islamic State militant group, according to the Saudi-led military coalition fighting in Yemen and reported in Reuters. The leader, Abu Osama al-Muhajer, as well as other members of the organization including its chief financial officer, were captured on June 3 in a raid on a house carried out by Saudi and Yemeni forces, the coalition said in a statement carried on Saudi state news agency SPA.

According to Reuters, the statement said there were no injuries to civilians, including three women and three children who were inside the house.

Khalid Bin Salman, Vice Minister of Defense and former Saudi Ambassador to the U.S., said in a statement that, “The capture of ISIS’ leader in Yemen is just the latest example of our commitment to eradicating the scourge of terrorism. Saudi Arabia continues to play a leading role in the international community’s effort to combat terrorism & counter extremism. ”

“The Kingdom’s military operations in Yemen are aimed at restoring the legitimate government of Yemen and preventing terrorist groups like the Houthis, Al Qaeda and ISIS from using the country to destabilize the region and to the threaten the global economy. Al Qaeda and ISIS have long ago declared Saudi Arabia to be their number one enemy. The Kingdom wears that declaration as a badge of honor. We will not rest until terrorism and extremism in all its forms are completely eradicated.”

Reuters cited a U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, as saying the United States “had provided support for the operation,” but did not give any additional details. While the Saudi Press Agency did not mention the U.S. role, a report in the Washington Post said U.S. forces had supported the Saudi troops in an “advise and assist” role, and also provided intelligence for the operation.