ISIL confirms death of its supreme leader

ISIL confirms death of leader Abu Hussein al-Qurashi

The dreaded ISIL (ISIS) organization has now officially confirmed the demise of its leader, Abu Hussein al-Husseini al-Qurashi, and announced Abu Hafs al-Hashimi al-Qurashi as his successor.

According to the group’s statement on Thursday, their leader met his end during intense confrontations with the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group in the rebel-held northwestern Syria’s Idlib province. However, the specific date of his death was not disclosed in the announcement, which was conveyed through an ISIL spokesman’s recorded message on the Telegram messaging app.

Earlier in April, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had stated that the leader was killed by Turkish intelligence forces in Syria. Erdogan referred to him as the “suspected leader of Daesh,” using the Arabic acronym for ISIL, and codenamed him Abu Hussein al-Qurashi. The Turkish media had released images of a fortified building amidst a field in Syria’s Afrin region, where they believed he had been hiding. Afrin is situated in Aleppo province, neighboring Idlib, and is controlled by Turkish-backed rebels.

In contrast to Turkey’s claims, the ISIL spokesman now contends that the group’s chief was killed by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, and they handed over his body to Turkey. ISIL accuses HTS of being aligned with Ankara’s interests, even though HTS has not claimed any operation targeting the ISIL leader. Western governments, including the United States, have designated HTS as a “terrorist” group.

The Turkish Anadolu state news agency reported that the MIT conducted a four-hour operation to locate the ISIL leader. During the operation, the leader triggered his suicide vest when he realized he was about to be captured. Fortunately, no Turkish operatives were harmed.

ISIL had witnessed a rapid ascent in 2014, conquering significant territories in Iraq and Syria, and proclaiming itself as a “caliphate.” However, the group eventually faced a series of offensives that led to the collapse of their rule. Their reign was marked by brutal beheadings and mass shootings. While they were defeated in Iraq in 2017 and in Syria two years later, sleeper cells continue to carry out attacks in both countries.

Abu Hafs al-Hashimi al-Qurashi becomes the group’s fifth leader since its inception. In November of the previous year, ISIL had announced the death of their previous leader, Abu Hasan al-Hashimi al-Qurashi. Prior to him, Abu Ibrahim al-Qurashi was killed in February of that year during a United States raid in Idlib province. The group’s first leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, met his end in Idlib in October 2019.