The Islamic State terror group confirmed Thursday the death of its leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi as well as its spokesperson, and announced Abu Al-Hassan Al-hashemi Al-Qurayshi as its new chief.
Qurayshi, a religious scholar and soldier in former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s army who led ISIS from the shadows for a little over two years, died in a United States special forces raid in northern Syria in February when he detonated a bomb that killed him and family members, the U.S. said.
The death of Qurayshi, 45, was another crushing blow to ISIS two years after the violent Sunni Muslim group lost longtime leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a similar raid in 2019.
The group did not deny or confirm the U.S. narrative and the new ISIS spokesman, Abu Umar al Muhajir, said in a recorded speech on Thursday that Qurayshi’s last battle was at Ghuwayran prison in the northeastern Syrian city of Hasaka.
At least 200 prison inmates and militants as well as 30 security forces died in an Islamic State attack on the jail in January in a bid to free their members, officials have said.
The U.S. and its allies declared ISIS beaten almost three years ago after the extremists were driven out of their self-declared caliphate that at its peak covered swaths of Syria and Iraq.
Former President Donald Trump largely withdrew U.S. troops from Syria later in 2019, but the military has maintained a presence in the country.