In a surprise announcement on November 30, ISIS said that its top leader Abu al-Hasan al-Hashimi al-Qurashi had been killed.
In an audio message titled “They Kill and Get Killed,” a spokesman for the terrorist group said that al-Hashimi, an Iraqi national, was killed “in combat with enemies of God”, without elaborating on when or where this took place.
The spokesman identified the terrorist group’s new “caliph” as Abu al-Hussein al-Husseini al-Qurashi. As of now, next to nothing is known about the man.
Abu al-Hasan succeeded Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi who died during a U.S. raid that targeted his hideout in the northwestern Syrian region of Greater Idlib on February 3. Al-Qurashi assumed the leadership of the terrorist group after the death of the founder and first leader Abu Baker al-Baghdadi, who was killed during a U.S. raid in Greater Idlib on 26 October 2019.
The White House welcomed the news of Abu al-Hasan death, without confirming or denying any direct involvement by the U.S.
Abu al-Hasan was not likely killed by the U.S. No major counter-terrorism operations by the U.S.-led coalition or its allies and proxies were reported in Syria or Iraq in recent weeks.
The leader may have been in fact killed by Syrian government forces, who recently carried out a series of operations against ISIS cells in the southern governorate of Daraa. Many senior commanders of the terrorist group, including Iraqi nationals, were killed in these operations. The largest and most recent of the operations targeted a major stronghold of the terrorist group in Daraa city. It was concluded only on November 15.
The death of Abu al-Hasan was, without a doubt, a major blow to ISIS. Losing two leaders in less than a year indicates that the terrorist group command is suffering from serious security issues.