Days after ISIS announced the appointment of “Abul-Hussein Al-Husseini Al-Qurashi” to lead the organization, succeeding “Abul-Hassan Al-Hashemi Al-Qurashi”, and the organization’s call to pledge allegiance to the “new leader,” experts in the affairs of international terrorism said the development raised ambiguities.
A Syrian security source had confirmed the death of “Abul-Hassan al-Qurashi” in a military operation by the Syrian army, a month and a half ago in the south of the country, according to the official news agency (SANA).
On Wednesday, ISIS announced the killing of Abul-Hassan in battles, without disclosing a specific date or location. But Washington said that he had been killed in mid-October in southern Syria.
Mounir Adeeb, an Egyptian researcher in extremist movements and international terrorism, told Asharq Al-Awsat that ISIS was withholding information and maintaining secrecy.
“It is difficult to determine the identity of “Abul-Hussein Al-Husseini” because the organization has used a nickname, not his real name…” he remarked.
The leaders of ISIS are usually known by more than one nickname. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was killed by a US strike in Idlib, northwestern Syria, in October 2019, held other names including, Ibrahim Awad al-Badri and Abu Duaa al-Samarrai.
Similarly, “Abu Ibrahim al-Qurashi,” who was killed in a US strike in northern Idlib, western Syria, on Feb. 3, was also called Haji Abdullah Qaradish and Abu Omar Qaradish. Some indicated that “Abul-Hassan Al-Hashemi Al-Qurashi” was also named Zaid Al-Iraqi and Jumaa Awad Al-Badri.
A well-informed source stated that the organization’s reticence in announcing the real identity of its new leader might raise ambiguity over the validity of the pledge of allegiance.
The appointment of “Abul-Hussein” could be a form of cover-up, to hide the reality of the ongoing dispute within the organization, the source told Asharq Al-Awsat.