An overnight raid in Syria by US special-operations forces resulted in the death of the Islamic State's leader, but it wasn't American forces who killed Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi. The US says the ISIS commander detonated a bomb as the raid unfolded at his compound, deliberately blowing himself up along with members of his family, reports the BBC. President Biden called it a "final act of desperate cowardice." It's the same way previous ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi died in 2019.
- Civilian deaths: Rescue workers say at least 13 people were killed in the raid, including women and children, reports the New York Times. The US says it evacuated 10 civilians after a warning issued via loudspeaker before commandos closed in. “To the degree there’s loss of innocent lives, it’s caused by Abdullah and his lieutenants,” says Pentagon spokesman John F. Kirby.
- The leader: Al-Qurayshi kept a low profile. The AP reports that his real name was Amir Mohammed Saeed Abdul-Rahman al-Mawla. He was believed to be in his mid-40s and from the northern Iraqi town of Tel Afar, and he graduated from the University of Mosul with a degree in Islamic law. The AP adds that was "believed to have played a key role in one of (the Islamic State's) most horrific atrocities: the enslavement of thousands of women from Iraq’s Yazidi religious minority."
- Biden: “Last night’s operation took a major terrorist leader off the battlefield, and it sent a strong message to terrorists around the world: We will come after you and find you,” Biden said Thursday, per the Washington Post.
- Praise, and a slam: The mission drew bipartisan praise from members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “This raid, ordered by President Biden and carried out by brave US forces, dealt a significant blow to ISIS,” said the Democratic chairman, Sen. Jack Reed. GOP Sen. James M. Inhofe also praised the troops but added: "This single operation is not a substitute for an effective, comprehensive counterterrorism plan or for holding ISIS-K accountable for the Abbey Gate attack (in Afghanistan). In fact, it raises questions about the Biden administration’s counterterrorism strategy."
- A caveat: As the Times notes, the details of such raids often take weeks or longer to clarify, even if the Pentagon does immediately deem them successful.
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