ISTANBUL, Turkey – The anti-terrorism police and intelligence agents arrested Islamic State leader Abu al-Hassan al-Qurayshi in Istanbul, according to a local media, calling it an end to the reign of new terror group leader in less than three months after it begin.
The Turkish website OdaTV first reported the arrest of Abu al-Hassan Thursday, saying Turkish police captured him without firing a single bullet during a raid on a house in Istanbul last week, as VOA wrote.
The website further reported the IS leader was being questioned and that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to formally announce the arrest and share additional details in the coming days.
A Turkish official on condition of anonymity said that the arrested person had become the leader of the group since its previous chief was killed in a US operation in Syria in February.
However, the authorities of the United States remained cautious, saying it is not safe to confirm the death of IS new leader without satisfying proofs.
“[We] can’t confirm the reports about al-Qurashi,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters Thursday. “Obviously we’ve been looking at this all day, but we’re just not in a position where we can actually confirm that press reporting.”
IS named al-Qurashi as the terror group’s third leader in March, saying he took over shortly after the death of his predecessor during a raid by U.S. special forces in northwestern Syria in February.
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Meanwhile, analysts are evaluating whether the detention of a reported Islamic State leader would affect the group’s activities in Afghanistan, as the Turkish media avoided sharing details or a photo of the arrested leader.
The Islamic State – also known as Daesh – has claimed responsibility for several deadly attacks recently occurred in Afghanistan. But the Islamic Emirate government has repeatedly said the terror group could not pose a threat in the country.
Last month, Chairman of the US Joint Chief of Staff General Mark Milley said the terrorist groups – including the Islamic State (ISIS) – are trying to regroup in Afghanistan, exclaiming it poses a threat to the United States mainland.
“ISIS and other groups are trying to put themselves back together, they have not succeeded yet and they have not yet presented a threat to the US homeland but we are watching that very, very, closely and if they raise their head and do present a threat, we will take appropriate (action),” Milley said as TOLONews quoted.
While reports suggest the rebirth of ISIS-K (also known as Daesh and IS) in Afghanistan, the current government denied the groups presence in the country, saying Daesh presence is very small and that “we have eliminated a lot of their sanctuaries so far.”
“They have conducted some attacks on a school and mosques but have not accomplished anything significant,” said Islamic Emirate’s Spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid. “We are serious about our security and will not allow anyone to cause insecurity.”
In March, US Central Command (CENTCOM) chief General Kenneth McKenzie said ISIS-K continues to grow unabated in Afghanistan with the reigning Taliban regime finding it difficult to counter the threat, adding “we assess probably a couple thousand, more or less, ISIS fighters” in the country.
“… When the Taliban opened Pul-e-Charkhi and Parwan prisons, it infused new talent and new energy into ISIS, so they’re now reaping the result of that very short-sighted decision,” McKenzie said during a press briefing as quoted by Sputnik News Agency.
Since the takeover last August string of bombings across multiple cities proves otherwise – suggesting a dim future that lies ahead of roughly 40 million citizens.