An Islamic State leader who has been described as the militant group's finance minister has been killed, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Friday.
"We are systematically eliminating ISIL's cabinet," Carter said. "Indeed, the U.S. military killed several key ISIL terrorists this week, including, we believe, Hajji Iman, who was an ISIL leader — senior leader — serving as a finance minister and who was also responsible for some external affairs and plots."
Carter did not specify where or how al-Qaduli was killed during a news conference with Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine Gen. Joe Dunford on Friday morning at the Pentagon.
The militant was known by numerous aliases, most commonly Abd al-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli.
"This is the second senior ISIL leader we've successfully targeted this month, after confirming the death of ISIL's so-called minister of war [Omar al-Shishani] a short time ago," Carter said.
He said this is part of a broader effort to target the financial infrastructure of the group, which has been losing ground in Syria and Iraq. That push began with targeting the Islamic State's cash storage sites. "Now, we've taken out the leader who oversees all the funding for ISIL's operation, hurting their ability to pay fighters and hire recruits."
This is how the State Department described al-Qaduli in 2015 when seeking information in exchange for a reward:
"Abd al-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli is a senior ISIL official who rejoined ISIL following his release from prison in early 2012. He traveled to Syria where he has worked with an ISIL network. He originally joined al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) in 2004 and served as AQI leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's deputy and as AQI emir of Mosul, Iraq."
When asked by a reporter Friday about whether al-Qaduli and other leaders recently killed will simply be replaced, Carter said:
"Striking leadership is necessary but ... far from sufficient. Leaders can be replaced. However, these leaders have been around for a long time, they are senior, they're experienced, and so eliminating them is an important objective and achieves an important result.
"But they will be replaced, and we'll continue to go after their leadership and other aspects of their capabilities."