Islamic State Confirms Death of Leader and Announces Replacement

Islamic State Confirms Death of Leader and Announces Replacement

Islamic State (IS) has officially confirmed the death of its leader, Abu Hussein al-Husseini al-Quraishi, in an undated recording published on its Telegram channel. The militant group named Abu Hafs al-Hashimi al-Quraishi as his successor. This is the first time IS has made an official announcement regarding its leader’s fate since Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan stated in April that Turkish intelligence forces had killed him in Syria.

Erdogan revealed that Quraishi had been pursued by Turkish national intelligence for a significant period of time. The spokesperson for IS stated that Quraishi was killed during a gun battle with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the main Islamist group in northwest Syria. The spokesman accused HTS of attempting to capture Quraishi and claimed that he fought against them until his death.

IS did not provide any additional information about the new leader. In 2014, the organization reached its peak when Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the previous leader, declared the territory under its control as a caliphate. However, IS suffered significant setbacks due to the actions of adversaries, including a U.S.-led coalition. Baghdadi was killed during a U.S. military operation in Syria in 2019. Abu Hussein al-Husseini al-Quraishi assumed leadership in November 2022 after his predecessor was also killed in Syria.

Although IS is no longer as dominant as it once was, its militants continue to carry out insurgent attacks in Syria and Iraq. The remaining thousands of militants primarily hide in remote areas of both countries and are capable of conducting hit-and-run operations. The U.S.-led coalition, alongside the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), is still conducting raids against IS in Syria.