2019-11-01 by Daisy I.
Islamic State names new leader, confirms death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in US raid
Photo: Baghdadi died by detonating a suicide vest as he fled into a dead-end tunnel during a US special forces raid in Syria on Sunday.
The Islamic State group has declared a new leader in an audio recording that also confirms the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi days earlier in a US raid in Syria.
Baghdadi, an Iraqi jihadist who rose from obscurity to declare himself “caliph” of the Islamic State in July 2014, died by detonating a suicide vest as he fled into a dead-end tunnel during a US special forces raid in Syria on Sunday.
In an audio release via the Telegram account of IS central media arm al-Furqan Foundation, a new spokesman identifies Baghdadi’s successor and the terror groups new “caliph” as Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi.
“The Shura Council of the Islamic State convened immediately, once they were sure of the martyrdom of Sheikh Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” the new spokesman announced.
The recording also confirmed the death of the group’s former spokesperson Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir, who US officials said was killed in a separate airstrike that closely followed the raid in which Baghdadi was killed.
In a tweet Monday, US President Donald Trump referred to Muhajir as “al-Baghdadi’s number one replacement” saying he would have “most likely” taken the top spot.
The IS announcement was followed by a warning to the US “not to rejoice” over the former leader’s death and not to forget the “cups of death at his hands”.
“Beware vengeance [against] their nation and their brethren of infidels and apostates,” the recording said.
General Kenneth McKenzie Jr, the commander of US Central Command said they are prepared for any possible revenge attack.
“We suspect they will try some form of retribution attack. And we are postured and prepared for that,” he said during a briefing at the Pentagon.
Who is Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Qurashi?
Hashemi’s name was not previously known to US security forces.
The announcement gave few details, describing Hashemi as “the scholar, the worker, the worshiper” and identifying him as a “prominent figure in jihad” who had fought against the US.
The name al-Qurashi appears to identify Hashemi as a descended of the Prophet Muhammad’s Quraysh tribe — which is generally considered a qualification for a becoming a caliph and was also used by Baghdadi in his full title.
Aymenn al-Tamimi, a researcher at Swansea University focusing on Islamic State, said the name could refer to a leading figure in Islamic State called Hajj Abdullah, whom the US State Department had previously identified as a possible successor.
Analysts have also named the Saudi Abu Abdullah al-Jizrawi and Abdullah Qaradash, an Iraqi and one of Baghdadi’s right-hand men, as potential successors along with the Tunisian Abu Othman al-Tunisi.
Baghdadi’s death is likely to cause Islamic State to splinter, leaving whoever emerges as its new leader with the task of pulling the group back together as a fighting force, according to analysts.
Whether the loss of its leader will in itself affect the group’s capabilities is open to debate.
Baghdadi’s final moments
Baghdadi was declared leader of the extremist group in 2014 when IS took control of large parts of Iraq and Syria, imposing its rule over the civilian population.
General McKenzie Jr said Baghdadi had been isolated at his Syrian compound saying fighters from other militant groups nearby probably did not even know he was there.
“About Baghdadi’s last moments, I can tell you this: He crawled into a hole with two small children and blew himself up as his people stayed on the ground,” General McKenzie Jr said.
“So you can deduce what kind of person he is based on that activity.”
Islamic State has resorted to guerrilla attacks since losing its last significant piece of territory in Syria in March.
Since Baghdadi’s death, it has posted dozens of claims of responsibility for attacks in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
In his last purported audio message, released in September, Baghdadi said operations were taking place daily and urged freedom for women jailed in Iraq and Syria on suspicion of links to the group.
He also said the United States and its proxies had been defeated in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that the United States had been “dragged” into Mali and Niger.