Iraqi officials used the cell phone of already captured ISIS lieutenant Ismail al-Eithawi to send instructions via the app for the four other leaders to come to Iraq, where they were seized.
The encrypted app was officially named by ISIS as one of its favored mobile messaging services in 2015 and has been regularly used by the terror group for private communication and to spread propaganda.
Al-Eithawi, who also uses the alias Abu Zaid al-Iraqi, was captured in February by Turkish intelligence and handed
over to the Iraqis.
Eithawi was a direct aide to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, responsible for fund transfers to the group’s bank accounts in different countries.
Saddam al-Jamal, a Syrian who was accused of taking part of a massacre in the province of Deir Ezzor in 2014 which killed 700 members of a tribe that rose up against ISIS, was the second most senior member to be captured.
Trump tweeted about the capture, which included two of the highest-ranking ISIS commanders ever to be taken alive
Apart from al-Eithawi and al-Jamal, the operation captured three field commanders: Syrian Mohamed al-Qadeer
and two Iraqis, Omar al-Karbouli and Essam al-Zawbai, Hashimi said.
Iraqi intelligence released images of the five men on national television on Wednesday.
Al-Eithawi and al-Jamal are the two most senior Islamic State figures ever to be captured alive.
The former served as ISIS governor in Syria’s eastern Euphrates region and as a minister in charge of the group’s so-called education department.
Al-Jamal, meanwhile, had previously been a commander in the Free Syrian Army and then leader of a western-allied ‘moderate’ Islamist group called Ahfab al-Rasoul.
This was effectively destroyed by ISIS following a military campaign, and al-Jamal reappeared in an ISIS video to say he had defected from his former group which he branded ‘stooges’ of the West, according to The London Times.
As head of ISIS in Deir Ezzor, he is accused of overseeing the murders of 700 members of the Shaitat tribe after it rebelled against ISIS.
Al-Jamal is said to have ordered the execution of children, sometimes in front of their parents.