Since the death of longtime IS boss al-Bagdadi, the terrorist organization has been losing its leadership at ever shorter intervals. Now the network is reporting a new death at the top. The backgrounds are dark, and nothing is known about the successor either.

The terrorist militia Islamic State (IS) has confirmed the death of its leader Abu al-Hassan al-Hashimi and named a successor. The militia announced in an audio message that the new “Emir” would be Abu al-Husain al-Husaini al-Kuraishi. The previous leader was “killed in the fight against the enemies of God,” it said without further details. ISIS supporters were called on to continue their fight. The authenticity of the message could not initially be verified. But it was spread through the extremists’ usual social media channels.

The US government said it had seen the IS announcement. National Security Council communications director John Kirby said: “We welcome the news of the death of another IS leader.” However, he cannot comment on operational details at this time.

Abu al-Hassan al-Hashimi was appointed leader in March. He succeeded Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Kurashi, who was killed in a US military operation in north-west Syria in February. US President Joe Biden said at the time that he blew himself up to avoid being held accountable for his actions. After the death of longtime IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in autumn 2019, he became the head of the jihadists. However, little was known about him in public. He is said to have been one of those primarily responsible for the genocide of the Yazidi religious minority in north-west Iraq.

IS expert Hassan doubted the authenticity of the message. Jihadists have often faked the deaths of their leaders and commanders to reduce pressure from intelligence and security forces. It has not yet been revealed who was behind the battle name Abu al-Hassan al-Hashimi. The first IS leader, al-Baghdadi, was also killed in Idlib.

For years, the IS controlled large areas in Iraq and in the neighboring civil war country Syria. In the meantime, the extremists have lost their dominion again. However, IS cells are still active in both countries. Observers warn that the jihadists could expand their influence again.