Islamic State confirms death of its leader, names new chief

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Islamic State confirmed the death of its leader Abu Ibrahim Al-hashemi Al-Quraishi and its spokesperson Abu Hamza Al-Quraishi, and announced Abu Al-Hassan Al-hashemi Al-Quraishi as its new chief.

Quraishi, a religious scholar and soldier in former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s army who led IS from the shadows for a little over two years, died in a U.S. special forces raid in northern Syria in February when he detonated a bomb that killed him and family members, the U.S. administration said.

The death of Quraishi, 45, was another crushing blow to IS two years after the violent group lost longtime leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a similar raid in 2019.

The group did not deny or confirm the U.S. narrative and the new IS spokesman, Abu Umar al Muhajir, said in a recorded speech on Thursday that Quraishi’s last battle was at Ghuwayran prison in the northeastern Syrian city of Hasaka.

At least 200 prison inmates and militants as well as 30 security forces died in an Islamic State attack on the jail in January in a bid to free their members, officials have said.

Meanwhile, the US State Department blacklisted and imposed sanctions on three leaders of the Islamic State’s Khorasan Province (Daesh) also known as ISIS-K, and another person it accused of acting as a financial facilitator for the group.

The State Department in a statement said the decision is taken to ensure Afghanistan cannot again become a platform for international terrorism.

According to the statement, three key members of Daesh have been blacklisted as “Specially Designated Global Terrorists.”

The current emir of Daesh is also included among those blacklisted, the statement reads.

“Sanaullah Ghafari, also known as Shahab al-Muhajir, is ISIS-K’s current overall emir. He was appointed by the ISIS core to lead ISIS-K in June 2020. Ghafari is responsible for approving all ISIS-K operations throughout Afghanistan and arranging funding to conduct operations,” the statement reads.

Daesh spokesperson Sultan Aziz Azam is also blacklisted who, according to the statement, has been acting as Daesh’s spokesperson since the group’s emergence in Afghanistan.

Maulawi Rajab, the leader of Daesh in Kabul province, has also been blacklisted. “Rajab plans ISIS-K’s attacks and operations and commands ISIS-K groups conducting attacks in Kabul,” the statement reads.

In addition to the key members, the US Department of Treasury has sanctioned Ismatullah Khalozai for providing financial support to Daesh. According to the statement, Khalozai has been an international financial facilitator for the group.

“Khalozai operated a Turkey-based hawala business to transfer funds to finance ISIS-K operations. He also operated a United Arab Emirates-based financing scheme, which involved sending luxury items to international destinations for resale, in an effort to generate funds for ISIS-K,” the statement reads.—Tolonews

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