ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi, aka ‘The Professor’ blew himself and his kids up to avoid capture early Thursday
He blew himself up during the assault by U.S. on a home in the Idlib province of Syria, Thursday, as US 24 commandos arriving in Black hawks attacked his residence at 1 am local time
Detonating suicide blast threw bodies into the street, with 13 people reportedly killed, including six children and four women
After a two-hour gun fight with locals, special forces saved babies, but left the ISIS leader’s body in the rubble
al-Qurashi, also known as Abdullah Qardash, was nicknamed The Professor or The Destroyer because of his reputation as a brutal legislator
The one time US prisoner was known as a cruel, but popular figure among the ISIS rank-and-file
Former officer in Saddam led Iraq, al-Qurashi, was imprisoned alongside Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and was once a US informant
He replaced Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi after al-Baghdadi blew himself up with a suicide vest to elude capture, during a U.S. raid in 2019
al-Qurashi was once known to U.S. officials as a cooperative informant after he was captured in 2007, but in 2020 the U.S. doubled the bounty on the new ISIS leader’s head to $10 million
According to reports, around 1 am on Thursday, two dozen US commandos quickly surrounded a three-story home in Atmeh, Syria, close to the Turkish border. The top floor reportedly, was home and headquarters to ISIS chief Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi – born Amir Muhammad Sa’id al-Salbi al-Mawla – and his family
As the US commandos closed in on the building, a voice speaking Arabic, through a bullhorn told residents to give themselves up.
Instead a firefight broke out. An ISIS lieutenant and his wife opened fire from the second floor as the commandoes moved in. about 45 minutes into the raid an explosion rocked the building, destroying much of the top floor where the ISIS leader and his family stayed. American officials have described it as a suicide blast.
Witness said bodies were flung clear of the rubble. First responders said that 13 people died in all. al-Qurashi according to sources, was killed.
The whole operation lasted two hours.
The accounts say helicopters arrived low and fast out of the sky about an hour after midnight. American intelligence officers having pinpointed the location of the ISIS leader at to the top of a three-story house among the olive groves just outside Atmeh, a Syrian town near the border with Turkey.
Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi was a stickler for security. He never left the building, running his terrorist group with messages sent through a lieutenant who lived on the floor below.
the operation lasted two hours.
The first neighbors knew of the lethal operation was the sound of helicopters, rousing them from their sleep. Minutes later they heard a voice through a bullhorn telling the building’s occupants to give themselves up: ‘Those who want to take part in jihad, come out,’ the voice said.
‘Everyone will be safe if you surrender. Those who remain will die.’
At about the same time, another neighbor reported banging on his own door.
Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi, otherwise known as ‘The Professor,’ had a complicated history, where he once served as a U.S. informant before Washington more recently, placed a $10 million bounty on his head.
al-Qurashi, also known as Abdullah Qardash, was nicknamed The Professor or The Destroyer because of his reputation as a brutal legislator, known for his cruelty, yet a popular figure among the ISIS rank-and-file.
He replaced Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as ISIS leader, after al-Baghdadi blew himself up with a suicide vest during a U.S. raid in 2019.
Al-Qurashi is believed to be a former officer in Saddam Hussein’s military who forged an alliance with al-Baghdadi in prison before becoming his enforcer and chief policymaker.
Defense Department documents describe him as an at-times ‘cooperative’ informant who under interrogation revealed details on the group that he would go on to lead.
Al-Qurashi – also known as Hajji Abdullah al-Afari – was born Amir Muhammad Sa’id al-Salbi al-Mawla, in 1976, the youngest of seven sons of a Sunni Imam in Tal Afar, a Sunni-majority town in Iraq, before joining the military while Saddam Hussein ruled the country. His father served as the imam of the Furqan Mosque in Al Baath neighborhood in Mosul from 1982 to 2001.
Following the invasion of Iraq by the US in 2003 and President Bush’s move to disband the country’s military, he found himself locked in jail accused of having links to al-Qaeda.
According to a statement by Amaq, ISIS’s press agency, the former leader al-Baghdadi appointed Al-Qurashi to run the group’s day-to-day operations in August 2019, making him the heir-apparent after his former boss killed himself during the raid by US forces in Syria.
In 2020, the U.S. doubled the bounty on the new ISIS leader’s head to $10 million. Getting to him however, was more difficult because the terror organization leader maintained a low profile.
He made no public appearances and he rarely released any audio recordings. His influence and day-to-day involvement in the group’s operations is not known, and he has no known successor.
His predecessor, Caliphate leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi detonated his own suicide vest during the targeted raid on his lair in Syria’s Idlib province and killed three of his children in the blast. He is shown in a still from a video released in April, having not been seen since he spoke at the Grand Mosque in Mosul in 2014.
The men formed a close bond while being held in a cell at Camp. al-Baghdadi, at the time was creating the extremist religious code that would provide the ideological compass for the death cult that morphed into ISIS.
After his release al-Qurashi served as a religious commissar and a general sharia judge for al-Qaeda, according to researchers at the S. Rajartnam School of International Studies in Singapore.
Al-Qurashi was tasked with establishing an institute for training judges and clergymen in the campus of al-Imam al-Adham College in Mosul, likely in part where ‘The Professor’ nickname came from.
When ISIS emerged as a splinter group from Al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch he changed allegiances, where he became Baghdadi’s enforcer.
Working close to Baghdadi, he was responsible for eliminating anyone who disagreed with his style of leadership, which is where he earned his other nickname, ‘The Destroyer’.
From there he became the group’s chief policymaker and legislator, known for enforcing its strict brand of Islam and Sharia Law punishments.
He is thought to have personally welcomed Baghdadi into Mosul in 2014 after ISIS took the city – announcing their presence as the world’s foremost terror group.
It was from the minaret of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul that Baghdadi gave a speech announcing the formation of the religious extremist ISIS Caliphate.
In capturing Mosul, ISIS had killed thousands of Yazidi residents, and enslaved Yazidi women under the guise of enforcing Sharia law.
There were disagreements among ISIS leadership about enslaving the Yazidi women, but al-Qurashi, a zealot, led the organization’s more extremist leaders in insisting on the religious cleansing, according to News Lines Magazine.
US authorities hold al-Qurashi responsible for the mass killings of the Yazidi people in Iraq in 2014.
‘He was responsible for the recent brutal attack on a prison in northeast Syria … He was the driving force behind the genocide of the Yazidi people,’ Biden said Thursday. ‘We all remember the gut-wrenching stories, mass slaughters that wiped out entire villages, thousands of women and young girls sold into slavery, rape used as a weapon of war,’ President Biden said.
On August 7, 2019 Amaq announced that al-Qurashi had taken over day-to-day running of the terror group, while Baghdadi concentrated on drumming up religious fervor in the group’s aims.
The selection of al-Qurashi as leader generated extensive debate within ISIS, even reaching its members in prison, over whether he was of Turkmen or Arab origin. The reasoning being that the ‘caliph’ of ISIS must be a descendant of the prophet Mohammed, therefore an Arab.
al-Qurashi was keen to prove his Arab origin. Until 2020, U.S. and Iraqi officials believed the head of ISIS was a Turkman, which they weaponized to undermine his claim to leadership. However, late reports confirmed his Arab descent. He spent his last days in Idlib province, an area held by insurgent groups hostile to IS.
al-Qurashi set off a bomb that killed himself as well as members of this family, the White House said. Thirteen were killed, including six children and four women during the mission, which involved 24 Special Operations commandos backed by attack jets, Reaper drones and helicopter gunships.
The raid targeted a large house in Atmeh in the Idlib region of Syria where the ISIS leader was hiding. The two-story house was left with its top floor shattered and blood spattered inside.
The Associated Press reported sighting body parts scattered near the site.
Al-Arabiya TV suggest three of the four women killed in the raid might have been the wives of the extremist leader.