The Year 2022 hasn’t been a good year for ISIS. The organization has lost two leaders and many members detained in various parts of Syria, where the central core is trying to hide and manage its activities.
ISIS faced such rapid losses that they no longer even bothered to hide their leaders in relatively safe areas. Meanwhile, some rumors circulated that the former leader of ISIS, Abu Hasan al Qureshi, who took office on March 10 after Abu Ibrahim, had been killed. The rumors were followed by the organization’s statements.
On November 30, ISIS media branch al Furqan released an audio voice and declared the death of the third leader, Abu Hassan, and Abu Hussein has been selected as the new “caliph”, the fourth leader since ISIS established a so-called “caliphate”.
A while later, CENTCOM released a statement regarding the death of ISIS leader Abu Hassan in Dara’a, the southern region of Syria. There are interesting points like the US knew it was the death thereby indicating the date as “mid-October”, and emphasizing the role of the Free Syrian Army, which was known as Mughawir al Thawra which placed in Tanf region, border of Jordan, the killing of Abu Hassan.
Dara’a witnessed clashes, again. Since former opposition groups reconciled with Russia in mid-2017 and joined the Syrian Regime forces, there has been a clash environment between the regime, opposition, and ISIS. In mid-October, former opposition and now regime units had campaigned against the ISIS cells in the north of Dara’a, Jassim.
Local media outlets published the photo of the dead leader of ISIS’ southern region Abdul Rahman al-Iraqi, but actually, he was the ‘caliph’ of ISIS but was not disclosed to the public. Generally, everyone missed this development, and no one thought it was important. Because it was like ‘another’ ordinary clashing in Dara’a.
Another question was “how did Free Syrian Army involve in this operation?”, and as we know it; reconciled former opposition armed groups did not change their mind against Baath, even if they are part of the Syrian Regime army and did not brake ties with the US. Under the regime control area, Americans conducted an operation that resulted in another death of the ISIS leader second in a year cooperated with former Syrian rebels.
Abu Hassan blew himself up with his companion when former opposition fighters raided the house. Local sources highlight that he was along with the ISIS fighters who went to southern Syria from the desert region, called Badiyah earlier in 2022. This flow started at beginning of 2019 when ISIS lost its last bastion, Baghuz. Threshold of Iraq, Jordan, and Syria and south of al Tanf have transformed into easy routes for ISIS members who are in Iraq result of the structure and distribution of tribes and smuggling networks.
The killing of Abu Hassan was accidental, local sources told. Former Syrian opposition forces conducted raids against the ISIS cells in Dara’a for two days with four separate operations. When former oppositions killed Abu Hassan, they did not know who he was. On the other hand, some ISIS members were captured alive by the same forces.
Who was Abu Hassan al Quraishi?
No one knows him until the declaration of his death. There are some claims about him but still unconfirmed. One of them is that the name of Abu Hassan is Nour Karim Al-Mutni, from the Bu Obaid Tribe in Rawa, a town west of Iraq near the border of Syria. His brother and relatives were killed by Shia militias known as Wolf Brigade. Abu Hassan’s relatives work in al Rawi Financial Network, which was sanctioned by the US in April 2019. Also, his brother Firas is under arrest by Hayat Tahrir Sham in Idlib.
Two ISIS leaders dead in a year
In the early hours of February 3, US Special Forces operators carried out the raid on the house of the ISIS former leader, Abu Ibrahim in Atmeh, Idlib region. Erbil-based US soldiers’ operation ended up with the death of 13 casualties. Abu Ibrahim was located 14.5 kilometers away from the first leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s house where he was killed in 2019.
One and a half months later of the raid on Abu Ibrahim, ISIS officially announced the new leader Abu Hassan al Quraishi but did not mention his ID or anything else. There were some rumors about his real name like Bashar Khattab Ghazal al-Sumaidai, Abu Khadija, Abu Muslim, Abu Salih, and Abu Yassir al-Issawi. So far none of the names came up true.
Turkey announced the detention of Abu Zayd nom de guerre Bashar Khattab Ghazal al-Sumaidai in September. There were claims about he is the leader of ISIS but Turkish state media expressed that he was the Minister of Education and Supreme Judge in the organization. And one of the names had been removed from the list of the real IDs of Abu Hassan. But still hadn’t been known anything about him. Until figured out on November 30.
Other important operations against ISIS in 2022
A night time on June 15, local sources had reported that helicopters flew over the villages and landed on one of them, heard the clashes in the Jarablus region, Turkish-controlled northern Syria. CENTCOM declared captured ISIS senior figure, bomb maker, and an important person in Syria, Hani al Kurdi. It was the second important raid against ISIS after the death of Abu Ibrahim in February.
Near after a month, Maher al Agal, who was known as one of the top five ISIS leaders and the leader of ISIS in Syria and responsible for ISIS networks outside of Iraq and Syria, was killed by an armed drone in the Afrin region by CENTCOM.
America carried out a rare operation style; two strikes in a day in less than an hour and in Russia & Syrian Regime-controlled area. The airstrike killed the second leader of ISIS in Syria, Abu Ala, and right after this, special operation operators conducted a raid. In this raid, Rakkan Wahid al Shaman was killed and were captured two members of ISIS in the Qamishli region, in northeastern Syria.
The New Term
ISIS tried to regain its powers when Abu Hassan was the leader. They carried out attacks in Israel and targeted some Central Asian countries that they hadn’t before. They started the revenge attacks on behalf of Abu Ibrahim, which mainly happened in Africa and Afghanistan but did not take long.
While the first of two ISIS leaders were killed in Idlib, the third one was hiding in Dara’a. He (and leadership) maybe thought Dara’a would be safer than the other region because of ISIS’ previous activities and ties. However, the year 2022 has been targeting ISIS command cadres. The organization has lost many important and high-level ranks in a short time.
Abu Hussein al Husseini al Quraishi was declared the new ‘caliph’ by the al Furqan media. And he received the bayah from all branches of ISIS. Like his predecessor, Abu Hussein’s ID is unknown too.