The U.S. announcement of the killing of the Islamic State leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi in the locality of Atmeh in Idlib province, within the areas of control of Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), has raised speculation about whether HTS had any role in his concealment or in the operation to kill him. Did HTS somehow provide cover to him? Or did it somehow provide the U.S. information to help track him down?
My view of this is as follows: go for the simplest explanations on the basis of the evidence. That is, unless evidence emerges actually showing HTS concealment of Abu Ibrahim or assistance in helping the U.S. to track him down, we should conclude that HTS did not in fact have any knowledge of his presence. Indeed, HTS' security apparatus has made many claimed arrests of Islamic State cells in its territory, and regardless of the truth of these claims, the fact is that the group does not tolerate a presence for the Islamic State in its territory. Had HTS known of his presence, it would surely have sought to kill or arrest him itself, and no doubt that would have been a huge victory for HTS's presentation of itself to the international community as an entity not posing any terrorist threat.
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