A chemical weapons expert for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was killed in a U.S.-led coalition airstrike last week near Mosul, Iraq, U.S. Central Command said Friday.
Abu Malik, who was killed Jan. 24, was a chemical weapons engineer during the rule of Saddam Hussein and then affiliated himself with Al-Qaeda Iraq in 2005, Central Command said in a statement.
Abu Malik’s training "provided the terrorist group with expertise to pursue a chemical weapons capability," the military statement said. He had worked at a chemical weapons production plant under Saddam's regime and later forged an affiliation with Al-Qaeda in Iraq in 2005 before joining ISIL, according to Central Command.
"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," it said.
There has been no sign that ISIL possesses a major chemical weapons arsenal. But there have been allegations that they have employed chlorine gas, which is classified as a "choking agent," though not as lethal as nerve agents. The U.S.-led coalition has carried out more than 2,000 air raids against ISIL in Syria and Iraq since Aug. 8, including some bombing runs that targeted senior members of the armed group.