US military says it’s killed Birmingham hacker Junaid Hussain in Syria drone strike

Junaid Hussain, 21, from Kings Heath, was number 3 on the US' kill list

A young computer hacker from Birmingham who joined ISIS has been killed in a drone strike in Syria, according to sources in the United States military.

Junaid Hussain was named as number 3 on a US “kill list” of key ISIS operatives just a few weeks ago.

Reports from CNN said the military and intelligence communities are currently “in the process of confirming the killing” of Hussain.

The unnamed US official told US news network CNN that: “We have a high level of confidence he was killed.

“There is a good deal of sensitivity because Hussain was a British citizen targeted by the US.”

The drone strike was specifically targeting Hussain travelling in a vehicle in Syria, according to the reports.

Hussain fled to Syria in July 2013 and was believed to be leading the “Cyber Caliphate”, ISIS’s own branch of hackers from the Iraqi city of Mosul.

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US officials said there had been an “intense” desire to assassinate Hussain, who tweets under the alias Abu Hussain al-Britani.

Hussain was jailed in 2012 for stealing personal information of Tony Blair and posting it online.

The 21-year-old, from Kings Heath, who escaped to Syria two years ago while on police bail, was ISIS’s most accomplished hacker.

Only Mohammed Emwazi, the hostage killer known as Jihadi John, and the group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi are higher on the list, according to reports.

After fleeing the UK, when he was on police bail for an alleged violent disorder offence, Hussain rose rapidly through the ISIS ranks.

US officials believe he is behind the online radicalisation of at least one of the two gunmen who opened fire at a Prophet Mohammed cartoon competition in Garland, Texas, in May.

Hussain was reportedly in contact with one of the “lone wolf” gunmen before the attack, and tweeted congratulations to his “Muslim brothers” within minutes of the first shots fired.

More recently, Hussain was identified as the main suspect in the hacking of Twitter and Facebook accounts belonging to US Central Command.

Deputy editor of 5Pillars, Dilly Hussain, interviewed Junaid Hussain last November via Skype.

You can read the interview on Huffington Post UK, or the full detailed exchange on 5Pillars.

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