Confirms Leader’s Death and Names Successor Amidst Ongoing Attacks
The Islamic State (IS) announced Abu Hussein al-Husseini al-Quraishi’s passing and the appointment of Abu Hafs al-Hashimi al-Quraishi’s successor in an undated tape posted on its Telegram channel. The disclosure follows Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s declaration in April about the successful operation carried out by Turkish intelligence personnel in Syria as the first formal confirmation from the militant group regarding the fate of its head. The challenge for the group’s new commander is to guide IS, whose territorial control has significantly decreased from its height in 2014. However, IS fighters are active, conducting guerrilla strikes in Syria and Iraq.
The most prominent Islamist organisation in the final rebel stronghold in northwest Syria, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), was engaged in a gunfight with Abu Hussein al-Husseini al-Quraishi, according to an IS spokeswoman. Quraishi resisted HTS’s effort to capture him, which led to a tragic collision. The IS spokesperson raised tensions between the competing Islamist groups in the area by accusing HTS of working as Turkish intelligence operatives.
The caliphate declaration by IS’s leader at the time, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in the area he controlled, which included a sizeable chunk of Iraq and Syria, signalled the group’s apex in 2014. However, the group encountered military opposition from several foes, including a coalition led by the United States. After Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a 2019 American military operation in Syria, Abu Hussein al-Husseini al-Quraishi assumed control.
IS has continued to conduct insurgent strikes in both Syria and Iraq despite losing a significant amount of its territorial dominance. The organisation’s remaining militants have sought safety in isolated areas of both nations, enabling them to carry out hit-and-run strikes. The U.S.-led coalition continues aggressively undertaking attacks against IS in Syria along with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-led alliance, to oppose the group’s actions.
The IS’s continuous insurgent strikes and announcement of its new leadership illustrate its tenacity despite losing ground since 2014. The selection of Abu Hafs al-Hashimi al-Quraishi as the new leader presents fresh difficulties for the course that IS will take. The SDF and U.S.-led coalition’s continued strikes and efforts show how serious the international community is about containing the threat presented by the extremist group in the area.