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U.S. Official Believes Al Qaeda, ISIS Have Been Forced in to ‘Survival Mode’

Red tape is extended and objects are set on fire around the house in which the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi, died during a raid by U.S. special forces in northwestern Syria in February. AFP
Red tape is extended and objects are set on fire around the house in which the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi, died during a raid by U.S. special forces in northwestern Syria in February. AFP

Despite lingering doubts about the usefulness of so-called decapitation strikes, U.S. operations to kill senior terrorist leaders are paying dividends, according to one of Washington’s top counterterrorism officials.

Both the Islamic State terror group and al-Qaida have been forced to stay in “survival mode” following the deaths of their leaders as a result of U.S. actions this year, National Counterterrorism Center Director Christine Abizaid said Thursday.

Islamic State, in particular, she said, has been forced to refocus following the death of former emir Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi, also known as Hajji Abdallah, following a U.S. special forces raid in northwestern Syria in February.

At the time, senior U.S. military officials described Abu Ibrahim’s death as a “significant blow,” an assessment that has been borne out in the way IS has carried out operations in recent months.

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