A U.S. airstrike in Syria killed an Islamic State leader who was a mentor to the gunmen who attacked the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris in 2015, U.S. military officials said Friday.
The strike that killed Boubaker el Hakim occurred on Nov. 26 in the Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto capital city of ISIS, the Associated Press reported. El Hakim may have had a role in the planning of ISIS attacks.
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El Hakim was a mentor to Said and Cherif Kouachi, brothers who gunned down several workers at the controversial Charlie Hebdo magazine in January 2015. They were killed a couple days later in a shootout with police. The Charlie Hebdo assault was one of multiple attacks that occurred over three days in Paris and resulted in 12 total deaths.
El Hakim, a 33-year-old Tunisian, was sentenced to seven years in a French prison in 2011 for being involved in a jihadist network. He was released in 2011 and left for Tunisia, where he was linked to a series of assassinations.
Previously, el Hakim fought with the now deceased former leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed by a U.S. airstrike in 2006.
As a senior leader in ISIS, el Hakim moved frequently between Iraq and Syria, the AP noted.
As ISIS has lost ground in Iraq and Syria, the group has looked to move its terrorist operations around the world, where its targets would be more unpredictable.