CAIRO – 19 December 2017: The year 2017 witnessed the inevitable end of many terrorist and extremist group leaders after extensive efforts exerted by security forces in several countries desiring to restore stability to their societies.
Egypt Today presents a list of the 10 most dangerous terrorist leaders to have died in 2017.
Ansar Bait al-Maqdis
The Egyptian armed forces weakened Ansar Bait al-Maqdis – now known as Sinai Province after the group swore allegiance to the Islamic State – when they managed to eliminate terrorists in Sinai and kill Anas al-Ansari, founder of the group, in an airstrike by Egyptian forces on April 1, 2017.
Islamic State reported the death of the militant, active in the Sinai Peninsula ever since the mid-2000s, in its weekly newsletter Al-Nabaa.
Ansari joined Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis group, becoming one of its first members, and he was one of its founders after jihad began in Sinai, according to IS.
He was previously a member of Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad, a group that claimed a string of bombings at Red Sea resorts in Sinai from 2004 to 2006 killing more than 100 people, IS added.
Ansari was jailed but was released during the rule of Egypt’s ousted President Mohamed Morsi.
Ansari participated in killing hundreds of soldiers and policemen since the ousting of Morsi in 2013.
The attacks have mostly taken place in North Sinai, though they have also been carried out in other parts of the country, including Cairo.
FILE- Anas al-Ansary, the founder of Sinai Province
1. Ahmad Abousamra
In an official statement on April 7, 2017, IS mourned the killing of its information minister, Ahmad Abousamra, also known as Abu Sulayman ash-Shami, by a U.S. airstrike in the city of Raqqa.
Abousamra, a U.S.-Syrian dual citizen, was born in France in 1981 and raised in an upscale suburb in Boston, Massachusetts. He worshipped at the Islamic Society of Boston in Cambridge and is the most senior American ever to have served in IS.
In 2000, Abousamra had traveled to Pakistan for terrorist training and returned to the U.S. in May 2002, which likely means Abousamra was part of the cadre of early jihadists.
He reportedly helped to disseminate the terror group’s viral videos and to create its English-language propaganda magazines Dabiq and Rumiyah.
In 2009, a U.S. district court indicted Abousamra on nine terrorism-related charges and issued a federal warrant for his arrest. In 2013, the FBI added Abousamra to its list of Most Wanted Terrorists and offered a $50,000 reward for his capture.
After the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Abousamra joined the fighting alongside the Nusra Front, and then he left the Nusra Front to join ISIS after criticizing Nusra leader Abu Muhammad al-Golani for betraying ISIS and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
FILE- Ahmad Abousamra also known as Abu Sulayman ash-Shami
2. Baraa Kadek
Syrian journalist Baraa Kadek, also known as Rayan Meshaal – founder of the IS-affiliated Amaq News Agency, which is the first point of publication for the group’s claims of responsibility for attacks – was killed on June 1, 2017 by military intervention against IS in Mayadin, Syria.
Kadek was the founder of Aleppo News, which covered the events of Aleppo and its countryside, where he was one of the Aleppo revolutionaries and worked as a media activist in Aleppo until the end of 2013, before joining the Islamic State to set up Amaq News Agency.
In the first years of the organization's appearance in the Syrian territories, Amaq News Agency was the main and official agency of the IS organization. It was the first source of the organization to adopt the bloody attacks in different countries.
FILE- Baraa Kadek the founder of Amaq News Agency
3. Abu al-Khair al-Masri
In a statement in February 2017, Al-Qaeda mourned the killing of its second-in-command, Abu al-Khair al-Masri, in a U.S. drone strike in Syria, causing a major blow to the terrorist group and the biggest loss to its leadership since the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011.
Masri was a member of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, alongside Ayman al-Zawahiri and fled the country in the mid-1980s. He joined the mujahedeen in the Bosnian War (1992–1995). He was sentenced to death in Egypt for being responsible of a series of terror attacks in Egyptian towns during the 1990s.
He headed Al-Qaeda's political committee and was a member of the Shura Council. He has been described as operating as a "trusted lieutenant" of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, with whom Masri worked in Sudan and Afghanistan.
Masri was reportedly arrested in April 2003 by Iranian authorities in Shiraz, Iran. According to reports, he was held under house arrest for approximately 12 years before being released in March 2015 in exchange for an Iranian diplomat held in Yemen.
Masri traveled to Syria to rejoin jihadists, reportedly in support of the Nusra Front. He resurfaced in a July 2016 Al-Qaeda audio statement, identified as Zawahiri’s deputy.
In the statement, Masri accepted the Nusra Front’s split from Al-Qaeda, saying that Al-Qaeda would support whatever “protects the jihad of the Syrian people.”
FILE- The second-in-command of al-Qaeda Abu al-Khair al-Masri
4. Abu Hani Al-Masri
In February 2017, the U.S. military announced that it targeted and killed longtime al-Qaeda leader Abu Hani Al-Masri in an airstrike near Idlib, who was "a legacy al-Qaeda terrorist with ties to the group's senior leaders, including Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden," according to Eric Pahon, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Defense.
During the 1980s and 1990s, Abu Hani oversaw the creation and operation of many Al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan, where he recruited, indoctrinated, trained and equipped thousands of terrorists, who subsequently spread throughout the region and the world.
Abu Hani was also one of the founders of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the first Sunni group to use suicide bombers in their terror attacks. He was responsible for multiple attacks against U.S. and allied facilities and personnel, including a 1998 attempt to blow up the American embassy in Albania.
Multiple sources identified Abu Hani as a senior military leader in Ahrar al-Sham, a group that has been allied with Al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria for years.
Ahrar al-Sham has split into different factions, with one powerful contingent joining Tahrir al-Sham, a new entity formed by several groups, including Al-Qaeda’s rebranded arm in Syria. Others in Ahrar al-Sham have refused to join Tahrir al-Sham and have even clashed with their fellow insurgents.
FILE- Al Qaeda leader Abu Hani Al-Masri
1. Hassan al-Bayati
Security sources in Kirkuk announced the killing of Hassan al-Bayati, who was known as the “Wali”, or governor, of Hawija, on September 21, 2017 in an offensive carried out by U.S.-backed Iraqi government troops.
FILE- Wali or governor of Hawija Hassan al-Bayati
2. Abu Anas al-Shami
Iraqi troops announced on September 26, 2017 killing of Abu Anas who known as Wali or governor of Rawa, one of IS leaders in Rawa city in An attack by Iraqi troops.
5. Rasheed Kassem
In February 2017, an important figure in IS, French terrorist Rasheed Kassem, was killed in Mosul. He was responsible for recruiting terrorists, especially from the French-speaking countries, and he played a major role in activating the modern media used by IS in the promotion of extremism and ways of committing terrorist operations.
A failed French rapper, he became one of the most wanted IS terrorists and was targeted in a coalition airstrike near the Iraqi city of Mosul, with one high-ranking counterterrorism official claiming his death in the blasts is highly probable, the Pentagon said.
FILE- French terrorist Rasheed Kassem
1. Abu Khattab al-Awlaqi
In a statement in February 2017, the U.S. military announced the killing of Abu Khattab al-Awlaqi, emir for Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s Shabwah province, along with two other militants in an airstrike. Awlaqi was a senior leader responsible for planning and conducting terrorist attacks against civilians.
Awlaqi had significant influence throughout the Al-Qaeda terrorist group, had ties and access to the group’s other senior leaders, and was implicated in planning and leading efforts to exacerbate instability in Southern Yemen.
Abu Khattab al Awlaqi / face book page
2. Arwa Baghdadi
In a statement issued at the end of January 2017 by Al-Malahim – the official media arm of al-Qaeda – Qasim al-Rimai, a leader of al-Qaeda in Yemen, announced the killing of Arwa Baghdadi, her son Osama and her brother Anas Baghdadi, nicknamed "Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi", in addition to his son in the first U.S. airstrike under the leadership of U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration.
Arwa Baghdadi was accused of joining Al-Qaeda following the death of her brother Mohammad in 2010, and according to her uncle Hisham Baghdadi, Arwa had married suspected Al-Qaeda member Yassin al-Barakati while she was detained in prison.
She stood accused of joining Al-Qaeda and of being involved with the “misguided group.” Arwa was bailed out of jail in 2012 and fled the next year.
FILE- Arwa Baghdadi