The Islamic State, through its media channels, has claimed that its leader Abu al-Hassan al-Qurashi was “killed in action” without specifying any details as to when or where, adding that he has been replaced by a person named “Abu al-Hussain al-Hussaini al-Qurashi.”
This development is particularly interesting as it comes two months after Turkish authorities announced the arrest of a high ranking ISIS suspect who went by the name Bashar Khattab Ghazal al-Sumaidai, who is believed to actually be al-Qurashi. According to a Turkish indictment, al-Sumaidai joined ISIS in 2012 and quickly moved up the ranks, where he has close ties with ISIS figures such as Abdul Nasser Qardash and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He was said to have held key positions in the terror group such as Justice Minister and Education Minister before the collapse of the self-proclaimed Caliphate.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the first ISIS Emir, was killed during a United States special forces operation in Idlib, Syria, back in October 2019. He was succeeded by Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi, who was killed in February 2022 during another American special forces operation in Idlib. In both cases, the ISIS leaders killed themselves in a suicide bomb detonation to avoid capture. In March, ISIS declared Abu al-Hassan al-Qurashi as the new leader of the terror group.
While there are still a lot of unknowns, it can be speculated that ISIS is making up the death of al-Qurashi to cover up his capture, which would deal a major blow to the terror group’s morale and propaganda. As stated above, no ISIS Emir had been captured alive. So far, there has not been any indication by international militaries or fighting groups in the region that an operation was carried out to target, let alone kill, al-Qurashi.