US Central Command, or CENTCOM, reported yesterday that it killed Abu Malik, an Islamic State “chemical weapons engineer,” in an airstrike near Mosul, Iraq. Abu Malik was associated with al Qaeda in Iraq and then the Islamic State for a decade before he was killed.
“Malik was an ISIL (Islamic State) chemical weapons engineer who worked at Saddam Hussein’s Muthana chemical weapon production facility before affiliating with al Qaeda in Iraq in 2005,” according to the CENTCOM press release. “He later joined ISIL and his past training and experience provided the terrorist group with expertise to pursue a chemical weapons capability.”
“His death is expected to temporarily degrade and disrupt the terrorist network and diminish ISIL’s ability to potentially produce and use chemical weapons against innocent people,” CENTCOM concluded.
It is unclear if Abu Malik was associated with the al Qaeda in Iraq cell that the Iraqi Ministry of Defense broke up in 2013 (al Qaeda in Iraq was eventually rebranded as the Islamic State). That cell was seeking to manufacture chemical weapons, including sarin nerve gas, and plotting to conduct attacks within Iraq, Europe, and North America, according to the Iraqi government.