The U.S. military and intelligence community is in the final stages of confirming that a U.S. drone strike this week killed Junaid Hussain, who is linked to the Garland, Texas, cartoon contest attack, CNN has learned.
“We have a high level of confidence he was killed,” one U.S. official told CNN Wednesday, referring to the British-born ISIS recruiter and hacker that the U.S. believes was heavily involved in inspiring attacks.
U.S. officials said there is a good deal of sensitivity about potential reaction in Muslim communities in the UK if a formal announcement is made, because Hussain was a British citizen targeted by the U.S.
Several U.S. officials confirmed to CNN that the drone strike was specifically targeting Hussain traveling in a vehicle in Syria after the U.S. got intelligence on where he was and watched him to confirm his presence before striking.
There is now a complex process underway, as there is with all strikes targeting specific ISIS members, to confirm the targeted individual was indeed killed.
This is the second strike against a senior ISIS operative in as many weeks. Last week a drone strike killed Haji Mutazz, the top ISIS deputy to Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, head of the organization. U.S. officials said that since the Mutazz killing, ISIS leadership appears to be arresting and killing a number of people it suspects may have disclosed intelligence about the group’s movements.