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US offers USD 5 mn reward for IS foreign fighter smuggler

Washington: The United States has issued a USD 5 million reward for information leading to the capture of a Saudi-born jihadist accused of smuggling foreign fighters into Syria.

The State Department said yesterday that Tirad al-Jarba, known under the nom de guerre Abu Muhammad al-Shimali, is a senior member of the Islamic State extremist group.

He had already been designated a terrorist by the United States and the UN Security Council, which has imposed a travel ban on him and ordered his assets frozen.

According to his UN sanctions listing he is 35 years old, and will turn 36 on tomorrow. He is said to be from Saudi Arabia and to have been a former Al-Qaeda member.

The State Department wanted notice issued yesterday describes him as the IS leader in the Syrian border town of Jarablus, opposite the Turkish town of Gaziantep.

From there he is said to arrange passage for foreign IS fighters from Australia, Europe and the broader Middle East, while managing a recruitment center in Azaz.

Jarba’s name was added to the “Rewards for Justice” program as Turkey and the United States were preparing a major operation to secure the border near Jarablus.

And it comes as the French aircraft carrier De Gaulle steams towards the region to step up strikes against IS in wake of last week’s foreign fighter attacks in Paris.