On February 3, 2022, ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi alias Haji Abdullah was killed during the US counterterrorism raid in northwestern Syria. During the raid, al-Qurayshi detonated a suicide bomb when the US troops approached the compound. The blast resulted in multiple civilian casualties including the wife and two children of al-Qurayshi. In addition, a senior deputy of al-Qurayshi and his wife and a child were also killed when they attacked US forces and because of a gunfight. The Biden Administration considered this event as a success that will lead to the downfall of ISIS. In connection with this, according to Nick Schifrin, an American journalist and foreign affairs and defense correspondent of Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), the raid conducted by the US was a risky move that will not stop ISIS ideology, but it eliminates most of its senior leaders. The said ISIS leader replaced the deceased Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi after his death during the same US operation.


In relation to this, counterterrorism experts said that the ISIS leadership is prepared for this event to replace and appoint a new leader. According to them, the identity of the next ISIS leader will be kept secret to protect his name. Due to the consistent raids by the counterterrorist forces that led to deaths of more ISIS leaders, the leadership are being cautious now on what will be their next move. In addition, the experts said that the next leader of ISIS will be from Iraq also like the two former leaders, al-Baghdadi and al-Qurayshi. According to Dr. Daniel Milton, director of research at the Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point, the possible leader will have knowledge in “Islamic jurisprudence” and has experience in battlefield. Moreover, the experts’ estimated propagation time of ISIS to appoint a new leader and to be fully operational is about three years. They said that the leadership are expecting this to happen and it is all planned that is why they are prepared for this.