.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday said Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, leader of the violent Islamic State group, ISIS, blew himself up during an overnight raid carried out by U.S. military forces in northwest Syria.
“Thanks to the bravery of our troops, this horrible terrorist leader is no more.
“Last night, operating on my orders, the United States military forces successfully removed a major terrorist threat to the world, the global leader of ISIS,” Biden said in a statement from the White House.
Biden was grateful for the immense courage, skill and determination of the U.S. forces who skillfully executed this incredibly challenging mission.
“The members of our military are the solid-steel backbone of this nation, ready to fly into danger at a moment’s notice to keep our country and the American people safe, as well as our allies,’’ he said.
Al-Qurayshi, also known as Hajji Abdullah, took over as head of ISIS in 2019, days after the group’s former leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, died during a U.S. raid in the same area.
“Since then, ISIS has directed terrorist operations targeting Americans, our allies and our partners, and countless civilians in the Middle East, Africa and in South Asia,” Biden said.
The president said al-Qurayshi “oversaw the spread of ISIS-affiliated terrorist groups around the world” and was the “driving force” behind the genocide of Yazidis in northwestern Iraq in 2014.
“We all remember the gut-wrenching stories, the mass slaughters that wiped out entire villages
“Thousands of women and young girls sold into slavery; rape used as a weapon of war.”
Biden said that al-Qurayshi died just like al-Baghdadi — by exploding a bomb that killed himself and members of his family, including women and children, as U.S. forces approached.
“In a final act of desperate cowardice, with no regard to the lives of his family or others in the building, he chose to blow himself up … taking several members of his family with him — just as his predecessor did,” he said.
The president said he had directed the Department of Defense to “take every precaution possible to minimise civilian casualties.”
“Knowing this terrorist had chosen to surround himself with families, including children, we made a choice to pursue a special forces raid, with greater risk to our own people, rather than targeting him with an airstrike,” Biden said.