The leader of the Islamic State has died, the extremist organization announced on Telegram Thursday, according to multiple news organizations, sparking a change in leadership for an organization that has faded in influence and power since it controlled large swaths of Syria and Iraq in the mid-2010s.
The group did not specify when Abu Hussein al-Husseini al-Quraishi died.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed in April his intelligence forces had killed al-Qurayshi, but the Islamic State claims he was killed by members of Syrian Islamist rebel group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in the province of Idlib.
An Islamic State spokesperson said the group’s new leader will be Abu Hafs al-Hashemi al-Qurayshi.
The Islamic State is a shell of the extremist terrorist organization that rose to prominence in 2014 and grew to conquer about a third of Syria and 40% of Iraq, an area it declared a “caliphate.” The organization is an offshoot of al-Qaeda, the group responsible for the September 11 attacks, and it rapidly rose to power by exploiting Syria’s civil war. The organization ruled brutally with beheadings and mass shootings as well as strict enforcement of its interpretation of Islamic law. The group was driven out of Iraq in 2017 and out of Syria in 2019, but still carries out attacks in the region via sleeper cells. Recently, its Afghan branch claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in Pakistan that killed at least 63 and wounded more than 120, and it was linked to an attack that killed 13 U.S. soldiers and hundreds of Kabul civilians during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021.
Al-Qurayshi is the fourth Islamic State leader to die since the group’s formation in 2014, according to Al Jazeera. His predecessor was killed in November, the Islamic State announced at the time, and the leader before him was killed by U.S. forces in February 2022. The group’s founder, al-Baghdadi, was also killed by U.S. forces in October 2019 in northwestern Syria.
Al-Qurayshi is not the original name of these Islamic State leaders, but rather the members give themselves that name in reference to Quraish, the tribe Islam’s Prophet Muhammad belonged to.
ISIL confirms death of leader Abu Hussein al-Qurashi, names successor (Al Jazeera)
The Islamic State group says its leader was killed by militants in Syria and names his successor (ABC News)
Islamic State Confirms Top Leader Is Dead (Wall Street Journal)
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