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Death of a terrorist

Mr Biden described Qurayshi as “the driving force behind the genocide of the Yazidi people in northwestern Iraq in 2014. We all remember the gutwrenching stories of mass slaughters that wiped out entire villages, thousands of women and young girls sold into slavery, rape used as a weapon of war.” Historically, for every terrorist killed, two are born. Thursday’s death will not signify the eclipse of IS, just as Bin Laden’s killing has not meant the end of Al Qaida.

Statesman News Service | Kolkata |

The target has killed himself. Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, the leader of the Islamic State (IS), is dead following a US raid in northern Syria that also killed a senior deputy of the terror group. Markedly, the raid has happened in the immediate aftermath of the IS prison break in Syria.

Qurayshi set off a blast killing himself and his family as special forces raided his hideout after a gunfight. The incident is faintly reminiscent of the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan by US forces. “Qurayshi’s death has removed a major terrorist threat to the world”, was President Biden’s immediate response. Though US officials did not name the IS deputy who was also killed, there is little doubt that it was a remarkably well-calibrated operation that, as it now transpires, had been months in the planning. IS has so far made no public comment on the issue.

Several US experts have said that Qurayshi’s death would be a blow to IS, but the hideous entity would ultimately regroup. The raid targeted a three-storey residential building on the outskirts of the opposition-held town of Atmeh in northern Idlib province and close to the border with Turkey.

Intelligence reports had established that Qurayshi was living with his family on the second floor of the building from which he ran IS using couriers to despatch his orders in Syria and elsewhere. He became IS leader in 2019, following the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. US authorities had offered a $10 million reward for information about the jihadist. President Biden was reportedly briefed on the details of a possible operation in December; he gave a final go-ahead for the special forces raid on Tuesday, monitoring it in real time from the White House situation room as multiple helicopters arrived in Atmeh around midnight.

As the raid unfolded, Qurayshi detonated an explosive device on the third floor of the house, killing himself, his wife and two children. President Biden described it as “a final act of cowardice”. Indeed, this tactic was also used by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi when he encountered US forces in 2019. There have been concerns in recent months from counter-terrorism officials that the group was trying to reconstitute in Iraq and Syria. That was evident from ambushes and attacks, particularly in a significant attempt at a massive prison break in north-east Syria last month, as well as renewed propaganda. Washington will hope the killing of Qurayshi will halt the resurgence.

Mr Biden described Qurayshi as “the driving force behind the genocide of the Yazidi people in northwestern Iraq in 2014. We all remember the gutwrenching stories of mass slaughters that wiped out entire villages, thousands of women and young girls sold into slavery, rape used as a weapon of war.” Historically, for every terrorist killed, two are born. Thursday’s death will not signify the eclipse of IS, just as Bin Laden’s killing has not meant the end of Al Qaida.