Counterterrorism Success: U.S. Forces Captured ISIS Official in Syria Raid

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U.S. military forces in northwest Syria have been successfully undertaking a counterterrorism operation to defend the American people and Allies and drive the world a safer place. In Sep 2023, The U.S. military seized an Islamic State “Operational and Facilitation official” during an operation in northern Syria. The raid observed the latest against the Islamic State’s web in Iraq and Syria, which has been depleted since it lost its physical caliphate in 2019, but continues to survive.

The Sept. 23 charge, which was executed by U.S. Special Operations Forces designated in northern Syria, resulted in the capture of Abu Halil al-Fad’ani, whom U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) stated has “relationships throughout the ISIS network in the territory.” CENTCOM expressed that there were no civilian deaths as a result of the operation. 

According to the press release, no civilians were harmed in the raid. “The capture of ISIS officials like al-Fad’ani improves our ability to locate, target, and remove terrorists from the battlefield,” CENTCOM spokesperson Lt. Col. Troy Garlock stated in the release. “USCENTCOM remains determined to the enduring defeat of ISIS.”

The U.S. military has persisted in targeting the Islamic State’s top and mid-level leadership to cause a hole in the group’s command structure and direct its eventual collapse. CENTCOM has said on its raids in Iraq and Syria monthly. In August 2023, CENTCOM said it projected 28 incursions in Iraq and eight more in Syria, resulting in seven ISIS operatives eradicated and 25 captured. CENTCOM has documented similar numbers for the previous months, revealing a steady drumbeat of raids against the terror grouping.

The Islamic State has faced significant attrition of its supreme leadership cadre since the group’s architect and first emir, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was eradicated in a U.S. raid in Oct. 2019. The Islamic State has evolved through four leaders since Baghdad’s demise. Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi, Baghdadi’s successor, aided as emir for two and a half years before he was eradicated. Abu Ibrahim’s successor, Abu al-Hasan al-Hashimi al-Qurashi survived eight months, and Abu al-Hussein al-Husseini al-Quraishi, only six months. The Islamic State designated Abu Hafs al-Hashimi al-Quraishi as the present emir in the last of 2023.

While the Islamic State “persists to face leadership challenges due to continued counter-terrorism pressure,” as the United Nations Security Council’s Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team reported in its latest report on the Islamic State and Al Qaeda, the terror group seems to be adapting. The attrition has pushed the Islamic State “to assume a flat command and control system; the role of the overall head has become less appropriate to the group’s functioning.”

The Islamic State has reimbursed for the targeting of its leaders by providing more power and authority to the head of its General Directorate of Provinces. The last chief of the General Directorate of Provinces, Ali Jasim Salman al-Juburi, who is also understood as Abu Sara al-Iraqi, “affected  [Islamic State] strategy, played a key function in personnel assignment, including the prior two [Islamic State] leaders, and directed external operations and finances.” 

Juburi, who was eliminated in an airstrike in Feb. 2023, was depicted as the Islamic State’s “shadow leader.” It is the GDP that oversees and handles most of the Islamic State’s external matters, including the coordination of various companions around the world via a system of so-called ‘regional offices.’ While member UN states represented Juburi’s death as a “significant impact ” on the Islamic State, “his loss appears to have disrupted the gathering only for the short term.”

Despite the elimination of its leaders in Syria and to a smaller extent in Iraq, the Islamic State “is assessed to stay resilient, supervising between 5,000 to 7,000 members across the two countries,” according to the UN’s Monitoring Team. Additionally, an assessed 11,000 Islamic State fighters are presently in prisons across Syria, where the group is known to keep its networks, using the time behind measures to also indoctrinate and compel new members.

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