Turkey said to have captured Islamic State leader in Istanbul

TV report identifies suspect as Abu al-Hassan al-Qurayshi, terror group’s caliph since last leader was killed in February

In this October 13, 2014 photo, a man shows an IS flag at an Islamic bookstore in the Fatih district of Istanbul. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)
In this October 13, 2014 photo, a man shows an IS flag at an Islamic bookstore in the Fatih district of Istanbul. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

Turkish officials say they believe they have captured the new head of the Islamic State terror group in a recent raid in Istanbul, the Bloomberg news service reported Thursday.

The arrested man was identified by Turkish news website OdaTV as Abu al-Hassan al-Qurayshi, who analysts believe became head of the terror group in March after its last leader was slain.

Police watched the house where the suspect was staying for a lengthy period of time, an official told Bloomberg.

No shots were fired during the arrest, according to OdaTV, which did not cite a source for the information.

Officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to Bloomberg said the suspect led the jihadist group since its last leader, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, was killed in a US operation in Syria in February this year.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been notified of the arrest, is expected to make a formal announcement in the coming days, OdaTV said.

According to a Thursday VICE report, Abu Hassan is believed to be Juma al-Badri, the older brother of the first IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi who blew himself up during a US raid in 2019. Al-Baghdadi was succeeded by al-Hashimi who also blew himself up during a February raid by US forces in Syria. A month later IS announced, “Abu Hasan al-Hashemi al-Qurayshi as an emir over believers and the caliph of Muslims.”

In recent years, Turkey has battled against IS along its border with Syria.

The group has been decimated since waging a global campaign of terror last decade, but still commands followers and continues to inspire attacks among jihadists.

In March, an Arab Israeli who had been previously jailed for attempting to join the group, carried out a stabbing and car-ramming rampage in Beersheba, killing four.

Days later, two Arab Israeli gunmen carried out a shooting attack in the city of Hadera, killing two and injuring several others. The Islamic State group took responsibility for the attack.

Israeli officials believe a video posted on Facebook and later released by the terror group of the two swearing allegiances to IS and its leader Abu al-Hassan al-Qurayshi, shortly before the attack, was authentic.


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