Senior IS leader extradited to Iraq from Turkey
BAGHDAD - Iraqi authorities said Thursday they have managed for the first time to have a top leader of the Islamic State group extradited from Turkey.
Ismail Alwan Salman al-Ithawi, 55, was tracked to Turkey's Sakarya region, detained and returned through cooperation between Turkish, Iraqi and US intelligence agencies, a senior official in the interior ministry's Falcons unit hunting IS members said.
The break came after his unit had "infiltrated the highest levels" of the jihadist group, he said.
A native of the Iraqi city of Ramadi, Ithawi was the group's "minister" in charge of religious edicts and headed a IS committee that decided on senior appointments, according to the official.
He had fled the group's now-shattered "caliphate" in Syria and was living under his brother's name in northern Turkey.
"We asked our ambassador in Ankara to intervene with the Turkish authorities by providing the arrest warrant issued by Iraqi courts and recent photos of Ismail," the official said.
IS swept across Syria and northern Iraq in a lightning advance in 2014, unleashing a reign of terror across a vast swathe of territory that lasted some three years.
The group's territory has now been wiped out in Iraq and reduced to a small foothold in Syria by a series of punishing assaults in both countries.
The focus has since switched to tracking down the group's senior leadership and the thousands of foreign fighters who once flocked to its banner.