Iraqi police arrest ISIS religious official in eastern Mosul

Iraqi security forces on Thursday announced the arrest of a senior religious Islamic State official in eastern Mosul.

Iraq’s Security Media Cell said in a statement that the Nineveh Police Command’s SWAT team arrested “a so-called sharia official and mufti of ISIS called Abu Abd al-Bari” in the Mansour neighborhood after continuous investigations and “accurate information.”

Shifa Al-Neama, nicknamed Abu Abd Al-Bari, was allegedly working as a preacher at several mosques in the city of Mosul.

“He is known for his provocative speeches against the [Iraqi] security forces, and he was inciting affiliation and allegiance to ISIS and educating extremist ideology during ISIS’ control over Mosul,” the Security Media Cell said.

“He is considered one of the leaders in the first row of ISIS gangs, and he is responsible for issuing fatwas regarding the execution of a number of scholars and clerics who refrained from pledging allegiance to ISIS.”

The Security Media Cell also charged the suspect for being responsible for encouraging the bombing of the Prophet Yunus mosque in July 2014.

Mosul was previously the so-called Islamic State’s stronghold when they emerged in Iraqi in mid-2014 before Iraqi forces, with support from the Kurdistan Region Peshmerga and US-led Coalition, recaptured it in July 2017.

Despite over two years having passed since Baghdad declared a final victory over the Islamic State, the group continues to conduct attacks in areas it once controlled, embarking on a wave of kidnappings, assassinations, and bombings that have raised fears of a new stage of heightened insurgency.

Iraqi security forces also arrested a “prominent terrorist” in southern Mosul, the country’s Interior Ministry announced on Tuesday.

The US military announced on late Wednesday that it had resumed joint operations with Iraqi forces against the Islamic State after operations were suspended following US-Iran tensions.

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