The Islamic State group announced the death of its leader

The Islamic State jihadist group said Wednesday that its leader Abu Hasan al-Hashimi al-Qurashi was killed in action and announced a replacement to lead the rest of the sleeper cells.

An IS spokesman said Iraqi Hashimi was killed “in a battle with the enemies of God,” without specifying the date or circumstances of his death.

The US Central Command (CENTCOM) said Hashemi was killed in an operation by Free Syrian Army rebels in Daraa province in southern Syria in mid-October.

Daraa province is largely controlled by Syrian government forces and rebels who have reached an understanding with the regime. In mid-October, Damascus said it had launched a joint operation against IS with former rebels in the south of the province.

Using an alternative acronym for IS, a spokesman for the US National Security Council John Kirby said: “We welcome the announcement that another ISIS leader no longer walks the Earth.”

Speaking in an audio message, the press secretary of IS said Abu al-Husayn al-Husaini al-Qurashi was appointed the new leader of the group.

The Quraysh refers to the tribe of the Prophet Muhammad, from which IS leaders are supposed to claim descent.


After a rapid rise in Iraq and Syria in 2014 that saw IS seize vast swathes of territory, the self-proclaimed “caliphate” crumbled under a wave of offensives.

The Sunni Muslim extremist group’s brutal and terror-ridden rule has been marked by beheadings and executions.

It was defeated in Iraq in 2017 and in Syria two years later, but sleeper cells continue to carry out attacks in both countries.

The group or its affiliates have also claimed responsibility for attacks elsewhere this year, including Afghanistan, Iran and Israel.

The spokesman did not provide details on the new leader, but said he was a “veteran” jihadist and called on all groups loyal to IS to pledge allegiance to its fourth leader.

Previous head of IS, Abu Ibrahim al-Qurashiwas killed in February this year during a US raid in Idlib province in northern Syria.

His predecessor Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was also killed in Idlib in October 2019.

“Global Threat”

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre would not comment on any US involvement in the operation that led to Hashemi’s death.

“We are pleased to see the removal of ISIS leaders in such rapid succession,” she told reporters, “and the United States remains committed to countering the global threat posed by ISIS and stands ready to work with international partners.”

This year, the leadership of IS has been repeatedly attacked from different sides.

In October US forces kill ‘senior’ IS member in a predawn raid in northeastern Syria, CENTCOM said at the time.

The US is leading a military coalition fighting IS in Syria.

The raid was aimed at “Rakkan Wahid al-Shamarian ISIS official known for facilitating the smuggling of weapons and fighters,” CENTCOM said.

A later airstrike reportedly killed two other senior IS members.

In July, the Pentagon said it had killed a top Syrian IS jihadist in a drone strike in the north of the country.

US Central Command said he was “one of the top five leaders of IS”.

Turkey said in September that security forces had arrested a “senior leader” of IS, known as Abu Zeidwhose real name was Bashar Khatab Ghazal al-Sumaidai.

Turkish media reports that there are some indications that Sumaidai may have been the leader of IS.

Thousands of suspected jihadists and their relatives are still being held in camps in Syria and prisons in Iraq.

In January IS launched a major attack on a prison that housed jihadist associates in northeastern Syria, during an attempted prison break that sparked a week of clashes with fatalities.

Hundreds of IS prisoners, including senior leaders, are believed to have escaped, with some crossing into neighboring Turkey or Turkish-controlled territory in northern Syria, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Pentagon warned on Tuesday that the threat of a Turkish ground operation against Kurdish targets in Syria would “seriously jeopardize” the gains made in the war against IS. The Islamic State group announced the death of its leader

Back to top button