In killing ISIS leader, US delivers from over the horizon

Republicans praise commando raid but cast doubt on President Biden’s ability to stop terrorism

The compound in Atmeh, Syria, where the Pentagon says ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi killed himself. (Defense Department via Getty Images)
The compound in Atmeh, Syria, where the Pentagon says ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi killed himself. (Defense Department via Getty Images)
Posted February 3, 2022 at 4:19pm

Lawmakers on Thursday applauded the U.S.-led raid that prompted ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi to kill himself and members of his family.

The mission's success demonstrated that the Biden administration can, at least in some cases, use “over the horizon” capabilities to attack terrorists in places where the U.S. has no base of operations.

Defense Department officials have said those capabilities will deter a restoration of terrorist strongholds in places like Afghanistan where the U.S. no longer has troops on the ground.

But Republicans, while pleased with al-Qurayshi’s death, said they remained unconvinced of that.

Al-Qurayshi detonated a bomb as U.S. Special Operations commandos raided his compound in northwest Syria, killing himself and at least a dozen others in his entourage.

Democrats played up the success. “Last night, America delivered justice to the leader of ISIS and struck a serious blow to this terrorist group,” tweeted Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The chairmen of the Senate and House Armed Services committees also praised Biden.

Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island said in a statement that the raid “dealt a significant blow to ISIS,” while Rep. Adam Smith of Washington said the victory was thanks to the “leadership of the Biden-Harris administration.” 

GOP still skeptical

Their GOP counterpart in the Senate, Armed Services ranking member James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, said it was “a better day when there is one less terrorist” but added that he still didn’t believe the Biden administration had a plan for preventing terrorist groups from regrouping now that the United States has left Afghanistan. Defense Department officials have testified that they believe groups like al-Qaida are seeking to regroup and that they may be a threat within months.

“This single operation is not a substitute for an effective, comprehensive counterterrorism plan,” Inhofe said.

Florida Republican Rep. Michael Waltz, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, also questioned the Biden administration’s ability to thwart future terrorist threats.

“For those who claim no we no longer need troops in the Middle East, we cannot conduct these types of missions without nearby bases, intelligence, special forces, and local allies,” Waltz tweeted. “We currently have NONE of these capabilities to address the resurgence of ISIS and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.”