The White House on Wednesday is hailing the death of a terrorist purported to be the latest leader of the Islamic State, though the group has long been driven underground. The Associated Press is reporting the death of Abu al-Hassan al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi.
"We certainly welcome the news of the death of another ISIS leader," National Security Council coordinator John Kirby said in a press briefing. "I don't have any additional operational details to provide at this time. We're still working our way through that."
He further said of what marks the second ISIS leader death in under a year: "We welcome the announcement that another leader from ISIS is no longer walking the face of the earth."
The AP, citing a fresh Islamic State announcement, wrote "The leader of the Islamic State group, Abu al-Hassan al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, was killed in battle recently, the group’s spokesman said in audio released Wednesday. He gave no further details."
The Biden administration had previously in February authorized a US special forces raid in northern Syria which killed the prior leader and successor after Baghdadi, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi.
Biden has since cited this as a major foreign policy achievement, despite that at the time ISIS had long been out of the headlines and thus the news seemed to be greeted with a yawn from the American public (in comparison with the more well-known Osama bin Laden raid in Pakistan).
As for the death of this latest ISIS commander, US forces to do not appear to have been involved. The AP details further:
Little had been known about al-Qurayshi, who took over the group’s leadership following the death of his predecessor, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, in a U.S. raid in February in northwest Syria.
None of the al-Qurayshis are believed to be related. Al-Qurayshi is not their real name but comes from Quraish, the name of the tribe that Islam’s Prophet Muhammad belonged to. IS claims its leaders hail from this tribe and “al-Qurayshi” serves as part of an IS leader’s nom de guerre.
The terror leader may have died during inter-factional fighting with other jihadist groups, or possibly by Russian or Syrian strikes targeting the Idlib area, which is still occupied by al-Qaeda.
ISIS announces its leader Abu al-Hassan Al-Qurashi has been killed in action, and declares Abu al-Hussain al-Hussaini al-Qurashi as its new leader.
[Important to note that this is quite possibly a fake announcement. See next tweets] pic.twitter.com/RmI6W8EsoA
— Hassan I. Hassan (@hxhassan) November 30, 2022
The US still had hundreds of troops occupying northeast Syria, as well as portions along the Iraq-Syria border, which the Biden administration says is still 'necessary' to prevent a resurgent ISIS. With much of the world's attention now focused on Russia-Ukraine, the years-long American occupation of Syria receives little notice in the media. Thus another "death of ISIS leader" headline in various outlets this week is also likely to elicit little attention in the West.