The United States President Joe Biden has said the leader of ISIL (ISIS) has been “taken off the battlefield” following an overnight raid in Syria that also killed children and women.

Later on Thursday, President Biden confirmed al-Qurayshi’s death and lauded the operation in a brief speech. He blamed the civilian deaths on the ISIL leader, whom he said blew himself up in an “act of desperate cowardice” as US forces approached, according to Al Jazeera.

“ISIS once again revealed its barbarity in a final act of cowardice, and displaying a never-ending — ended — disregard for innocent lives.  Hajji Abdullah detonated an explosive device shortly after U.S. forces arrived on site, killing himself, a woman, and three children,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said yesterday.

According to him, Hajji Abdullah’s death delivers a catastrophic blow to ISIS and shows that “the United States will take out terrorist threats no matter where they stand to hide in the world — try to hide in the world.”

The Pentagon said there were no US casualties in the raid.

ISIL named al-Qurayshi as its head in 2019 after confirming on November 1, 2019 the death of former leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was killed by US Special Forces days earlier.

In 2020, the US Department of State’s Rewards for Justice Program offered US$0 million for information leading to the identification or location of al-Qurayshi, who went by many names and aliases, including Hajji Abdallah and Amir Muhammad Sa’id Abdal-Rahman al-Mawla.

Born in Mosul, Iraq, in 1976, al-Mawla was an Iraqi Salafist and the second caliph of the Islamic State.  His appointment by a shura council was announced by the Islamic State media on 31 October 2019, less than a week after the death of previous leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

He was born into an Iraqi Turkmen family, and educated in Sharia law at the University of Mosul.  After graduating, he served as an army officer in Ba'athist Iraq.  After the end of Saddam Hussein's rule following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, he joined Al-Qaeda and served as a religious commissary and a general Sharia jurist.