For the 3rd time since 2019, an ISIS leader is killed

The leader of the Islamic State group, Abu al-Hassan al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, was killed in a battle recently, the group's spokesman said in audio released Wednesday, without giving further details.

ISIS announces the battlefied death of Abu al-Hassan al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, without providing specifics

A person dressed all in black with much of their face covered holds a rifle in one hand and a black-and-white Islamic State flag in the other, walking alone in the middle of a street in Raqqa, Syria.
A member loyal to the Islamic State waves the group's flag in Raqqa, Syria, in 2014. Since 2019 and the death of previous leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the group's presence has been diminished. (Reuters)

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 on Wednesday. He gave no further details.

Al-Qurayshi is the second ISIS leader to be killed this year at a time when the extremist group has been trying to rise again with its sleeper cells carrying out deadly attacks in Iraq and Syria.

He took over the group's leadership weeks after the death of his predecessor. Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi was killed in a U.S. raid in February in northwest Syria.

The death marked a blow to the group that was defeated in Iraq in 2017 and in Syria two years later. The announcement by ISIS spokesman Abu Omar al-Muhajer came at a time when ISIS has been trying to carry out deadly attacks in parts of Syria and Iraq the extremists once declared a caliphate.

"He died fighting the enemies of God, killing some of them before being killed like a man on the battlefield," al-Muhajer said.

Little known about new leader

Al-Muhajer said that Abu al-Hussein al-Husseini al-Qurayshi was named as the group's new leader.

"He is one of the veteran warriors and one of the loyal sons of the Islamic State," al-Muhajer said. Little is also known about the new leader.

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. ISIS claims its leaders hail from this tribe, and "al-Qurayshi" serves as part of an ISIS leader's nom de guerre.

Asked in Washington about al-Qurayshi's death, spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council, John Kirby, said: "We certainly welcome the news of the death of another ISIS leader. I don't have any additional operational details to provide at this time."

ISIS broke away from al-Qaeda

The Islamic State group broke away from al-Qaeda about a decade ago and ended up controlling large parts of northern and eastern Syria as well as northern and western Iraq. In 2014, the extremists declared their self-described caliphate, attracting supporters from around the world.

In the following years, they claimed attacks throughout the world that killed and wounded hundreds of people before coming under attack from different sides. The group used social media to show the world its brutality, releasing videos of people being beheaded, drowned alive in pools while locked in metal cages or set on fire after being doused with gasoline.

In March 2019, U.S.-backed Syrian fighters captured the last sliver of land the extremists once held in Syria's eastern province of Deir el-Zour, which borders Iraq. Since then, ISIS fighters have been carrying out sporadic attacks.

Earlier this month, ISIS militants attacked an Iraqi army position in the northwestern governorate of Kirkuk, killing four soldiers.

ISIS has also been waging a campaign of violence that escalated since the Taliban took power in Afghanistan in August 2021.