I am immensely proud of the American forces who carried out an operation against Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, the leader of the Islamic State. He detonated an explosive device during the operation, killing himself and members of his family.
The professionalism, skills and preparation of our troops – honed through relentless rehearsal – dealt a severe blow to ISIS and helped make our country and our citizens safer.
Al-Qurayshi, also known as Hajii Abdullah, provided near-constant operational advice to ISIS fighters, including the prison break and attack in Hasakah and the massacre of Yazidis in Iraq. He is now out of the battlefield and out of command, and can no longer threaten lives.
I also want to commend the leadership of US Central Command and US Special Operations Command for their superb support in planning and executing this dangerous mission. I’ve been involved in enough operations like this to know how difficult they are to mount and how carefully they need to be planned and financed.
I know the rest of the Department shares my pride and deep gratitude.
Allow me to take this opportunity to emphasize that the Department takes seriously our commitment to avoid harm to civilians during our operations. This operation was specifically designed and conducted to minimize civilian casualties. We know that al-Qurayshi and others in his compound directly caused the deaths of women and children last night. But, given the complexity of this mission, we will examine the possibility that our actions may have harmed innocent people as well.
The fight against Daesh continues. Their leader may be gone, but their twisted ideology and intent to kill, maim and terrorize still threatens our national security and the lives of countless innocent people.
We saw this evil determination on full display during the prison break from Hasakah and the fighting that followed.
And so, we will continue…encouraged by the bravery we witnessed last night and emboldened by the knowledge that ISIS, while still a viable threat, is now weaker.