Pentagon officials today issued a statement claiming that Abu Sayyed, who they believe to have been the “emir” of the ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan, was killed in a drone strike in Kunar Province earlier this week. The drone strike reportedly killed other ISIS members too.
Pentagon officials said they believe the death of this emir would “significantly disrupt” ISIS attempts to expand their presence in the country. There are serious reasons to doubt that this is going to have much impact, however.
The biggest reason is that Abu Sayyed is the third Pentagon-claimed emir they’ve killed in Afghanistan in just the last 12 months. The previous one, Abdul Hasib, was killed only a little over two months ago, and the Pentagon was similarly confident that would be a game-changer.
It wasn’t. As with ISIS everywhere else, the organization of the leadership is not well understood, and the groups have shown an ability to adapt to losing such figures without apparent large impact to their day-to-day operations on the ground.