Pentagon: US expects new ISIS leader to ‘step up’ as they ‘would like to continue to attack the West’

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Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said Friday that the U.S. believes someone in ISIS is going to “step up to try to lead the group” following the killing of their former leader in Syria, as the militants “would like to continue to attack the West, even our homeland.” 

Kirby made the comments to NPR during an interview about the U.S. Special Operations raid Thursday that resulted in Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi – who is also known as Hajji Adbullah – blowing himself up, killing his wife and children in the process. 

“We are going to assume that they are going to try to replace him. This is an organization that wants to reconstitute. They want to grow, they want to get back to the heyday that they had back in 2014,” Kirby said. 

Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi steadily rose through the ranks of ISIS, the State Department says. (US State Department/Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images/ Photo illustration)

Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi steadily rose through the ranks of ISIS, the State Department says. (US State Department/Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images/ Photo illustration)
(Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images/ Photo illustration)

INSIDE THE US RAID THAT KILLED ISIS’ LEADER 

“They certainly have expressed indications that they would like to continue to attack the West, even our homeland. So this is a group that we are keeping an eye on and we have to assume that there will be another leader that will step up to try to lead the group,” he continued.  

Going into the raid, Kirby said the Pentagon “had hoped” to capture al-Qurayshi alive. 

A poster advertising a $10 million U.S. reward for information about Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, who also went by the name Amir Muhammad Sa’id Abdal-Rahma al-Mawla.

A poster advertising a $10 million U.S. reward for information about Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, who also went by the name Amir Muhammad Sa’id Abdal-Rahma al-Mawla.
(US State Department)

However, once he was found dead, those on-scene were able to confirm his identity quickly. 

“We were able to identify his body through fingerprints and DNA analysis,” Kirby had told reporters yesterday. 

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Kirby also described al-Qurayshi as a different kind of leader compared to his predecessor, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. 

“Abdullah had a different approach that al-Baghdadi. He was a more hands-on guy, he was more involved in the operations than Baghdadi was… so we will see how they try to react to his loss but we are going to assume they are going to try to keep going,” Kirby said. 

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