Tags: Barack Obama | ISIS/Islamic State | Middle East | Syria | War on Terrorism | James Risch | Obama

Sen. James Risch: Obama 'Made the Right Call' in Critical ISIS Raid

By    |   Tuesday, 19 May 2015 07:33 PM

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman James Risch said Tuesday that "there's no question" that President Barack Obama "made the right call" in authorizing a raid in which U.S. Delta Forces killed a top Islamic State (ISIS) leader on Friday.

"He was clearly the target," the Idaho Republican told Wolf Blitzer on CNN of Fathi ben Awn ben Jildi Murad al-Tunisi. He was also known as Abu Sayyaf and was the chief finance person for the ISIS branch in Tunisia.

Murad was killed Friday during a rare U.S. ground operation in Syria and his wife, known as Umm Sayyaf, was taken into custody. She was being interrogated Tuesday, Risch said.

He had a number of aliases, and U.S. officials believe Murad was head of the Islamic State's oil operations.

Murad also is suspected of being a captor of American hostage Kayla Mueller for a time, officials said Tuesday.

Mueller, 26, of Prescott, Arizona, was killed in a Jordanian airstrike, ISIS said in February, but U.S. officials have said they doubt that assertion.

Mueller and her Syrian boyfriend were taken hostage in August 2013 after leaving a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Aleppo, Syria. Her boyfriend was later released.

Risch, who also sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Blitzer that Murad was critical to the Islamic State's financial operations.

"They've been successful because they know how to manage finances," he said of the terrorist group. "They bring in a lot of money. They get it from oil sales, kidnapping, extortion, theft."

He said Murad "played a real key role in that. And that's the reason that the United States was willing to take a high-risk operation. This was a high-risk operation."

Murad was "a real player in the ISIS organization," Risch told Blitzer, because "he was so good at handling the money and being able to direct traffic as to how it would come in and where it would go."

He said that while ISIS could find someone to replace Murad, "one of the things that the organizations are short on is leadership.

"They don't have the same kind of leadership that you have in a first-world country, where when someone steps aside, someone can easily step in and take their place.

"That's not the way these guys operate," Risch said. "They're long on foot soldiers and really short on leadership."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman James Risch said Tuesday that "there's no question" that President Barack Obama "made the right call" in authorizing a raid in which U.S. Delta Forces killed a top Islamic State leader on Friday.
James Risch, Obama, raid, ISIS, Kayla Mueller, Murad, Abu Sayyaf
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2015-33-19
Tuesday, 19 May 2015 07:33 PM
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