The head of Islamic State, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Qurayshi, died as he lived most of his life: off the grid within the jihadist underworld.
Little is thought in regards to the ISIS chief, whose actual identify is Amir Muhammad Said Abdel-Rahman al-Mawla, or different members of the group’s senior command. But his demise in a raid by U.S. commandos in Syria on Thursday was a major blow to the fear group and a victory for U.S. counterterrorism efforts.
While he was nowhere close to as outstanding as his predecessor, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who died in a similar U.S. operation in 2019, “Mr. Qurayshi still commands a lot of respect within jihadi circles and is known to be highly intelligent and able to think strategically, said Colin P. Clarke, a counterterrorism analyst at the Soufan Group, a security consulting firm based in New York.
Mr. Clarke said that Mr. al-Qurayshi had kept a low profile, which helped him elude an American-led manhunt but also may have hampered his ability to expand the Islamic State’s global network and brand. In March 2019, ISIS lost the last piece of territory from its so-called caliphate in parts of Syria and Iraq.
“The trade-off has been, he’s a ghost, and not exactly active to inspire jihadist recruits,” Mr. Clarke stated.
“The next ISIS leader could be someone relatively unknown, which will present the U.S. and its allies with a challenge in terms of intelligence collection and mapping his network. But it’s also a challenge for ISIS, particularly if the next leader is not someone with a reputation on par with previous jihadist leaders.”
Mr. al-Qurayshi, who was 45 and born in Iraq, was named the top of ISIS after Mr. al-Baghdadi died in October 2019 in comparable circumstances: detonating a suicide vest as U.S. forces raided his hide-out in Syria’s Idlib Province. Once he took up that mantle, the United States put a bounty of as much as $10 million on his head.
The U.S. authorities stated he “helped drive and justify the abduction, slaughter, and trafficking of the Yazidi religious minority in northwest Iraq and also led some of the group’s global terrorist operations.”
He was captured by U.S. forces in Iraq in early 2008. The date of his launch is just not recognized. While in American custody, he appeared cooperative in interrogations and even offered details about different ISIS operatives, based on interrogation stories that had been later made public.
A day after his seize, the U.S. army’s Central Command stated that operations in Mosul, Iraq, had resulted within the seize of “a wanted individual believed to be the deputy Al Qaeda in Iraq leader for the network operating in the city.” It stated the person had “previously served as a judge of an illegal court system involved in ordering and approving abductions and executions.”
Earlier, Mr. al-Qurayshi had served briefly within the Iraqi army earlier than the autumn of Saddam Hussein and accomplished a Master’s diploma in Islamic Studies on the University of Mosul in January 2007. He instructed interrogators he joined the Islamic State in Iraq quickly after that.