Middle East

IS confirms death of propaganda chief Abu Mohammed al-Furqan

Image grab taken from a propaganda video released on March 17, 2014 by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS, ISIL, now IS) al-Furqan Media shows fighters (militants) raising their weapons. Image copyright AFP
Image caption With its own radio station, magazines, and a daily flow of video and photo reports, IS runs a professional media operation

The Islamic State group (IS) has confirmed the death last month of one of its most senior leaders, Abu Mohammed al-Furqan.

He was minister of information for the group, and oversaw the production of propaganda videos showing executions.

A statement posted online did not say when, where or how he had died.

The Pentagon last month said an air strike killed him near Raqqa in Syria on 7 September.

He was among the few remaining founding members of IS, and had reportedly played a leading role in setting up the jihadist group's key media outfits, including Amaq news agency, and in launching its multilingual magazines, such as Dabiq.

Born Wa'il Adil Hasan Salman al-Fayad in Iraq, his nickname 'al-Furqan' is thought to be derived from his reported role in running al-Furqan Media Foundation - IS's long-standing media arm.

The media chief, who was known as an ultra hard-liner, had also been a member of the IS leadership group, the Shura Council.

Experts say he had no public profile prior to his death, nor was he officially mentioned by IS before.

Such secrecy is thought to be in line with the group's policy on most of its top figures during their lifetime.

IS propaganda in decline

The confirmation of his death comes at a time when research shows that the volume of IS propaganda is in decline.

A new study, by the Combating Terrorism Centre of the US military academy at West Point, logged fewer than 200 items in August, down from a peak of more than 700 the year before.

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Media captionFrank Gardner considers what difference the death of Abu Muhammad al-Adnani will make to so-called Islamic State

Abu Mohammed al-Furqan was a close associate of another one of the group's propagandists, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, who was killed in an air strike in August.

Adnani was one of the group's most high-profile figures with a $5m (£4m) bounty on his head.

"The removal of ISIL's senior leaders degrades its ability to retain territory, and its ability to plan, finance, and direct attacks inside and outside of the region," the Pentagon said in a statement, using an alternative name for IS.