An amateur journalist in Syria gives a guided tour of the objective house where ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Quraishi died during a US Special Operations Forces raid in the early hours of Feb. 3, 2022.
According to reports, the ISIS leader was living on the top (third) floor with his family while unrelated, unsuspecting families occupied the lower floors. While the cameraman doesn't go to the third level, it gives the viewer in in depth look at the objective area where the raid went down.
Official reports from the Biden Administration claim Quraishi self-detonated a large explosive device, killing himself, his family, and destroying much of the floor he occupied. The same reports suggest multiple bodies were launched out of the building by the blast. Prior to the explosion, US forces used a megaphone to announce their arrival and give the women and children an opportunity to evacuate.
Aftermath photos and videos of the dead show varying degrees of injury. Quraishi wasn't wearing an explosive vest as some reports indicate. His injuries were trauma to his head and evisceration to his torso. A different body was ripped to pieces, while a photo of a dead toddler-aged female show her with an attached IV tube, suggesting she was somewhat alive and given treatment by an unknown entity after the operation.
Given the lack of released official footage of the operation, the lack of footage of the supposed suicide blast, and combined with the incompetence of the current US military's top leadership demonstrated in the Kabul evacuation where approximately a dozen civilians and allies were killed in a botched US drone strike, it may be just as likely that the "blew himself up" story is an attempt to write off collateral damage to avoid further criticism. Until definitive video proof of the reported self-detonation is released, one should remain skeptical of the official narrative.
Further reports indicated that militants, likely belonging to the local al Qaeda affiliate approached the US cordon looking for trouble and were rapidly neutralized by air strikes. This area of Idlib is an extremely hostile jihadist safe haven all along the Turkish border. The US troops entered the area under great risk from multiple insurgent groups including the Islamic State, al Qaeda affiliates Hurras al-Din and Hyat Tahrir ash Sham (HTS), and any number of other Turkish-backed Islamist factions.
The operation to kill the ISIS leader was months in the making, according to official reports, but was likely pushed ahead by the recent ISIS prison break in Hasakah province, where hundreds of Islamic State prisoners escaped from a US-backed SDF facility.
In addition to the prison break, the Islamic State has reportedly carried out a number of recent attacks across Syria and Iraq, suggesting a resurgence is imminent. The Biden Administration has been criticized since the election for not having a strategy in Syria and the attacks and prison break are evidence for that. The operation to eliminate Quraishi is little more than damage control for a failing Middle East policy.
In ideology-driven terror groups like ISIS, Quraishi was nothing more than a figure-head who never left his home. He will be replaced and the operational portions of the group will continue to rearm, refit, and reorganize like nothing happened.