ISIS says it has a new leader less than a week after US raid that left Baghdadi dead
- ISIS on Thursday confirmed the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and announced his successor: Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Qurayshi.
- A top researcher on ISIS at Swansea University, Aymenn al-Tamimi, said this name is unknown but could refer to a senior ISIS leader named Amir Muhammad Sa'id Abdal Rahman al-Mawla who has gone under various aliases.
- ISIS also confirmed that its spokesperson, Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir, was killed in a separate, subsequent US strike that was conducted after the Baghdadi raid.
- A man identified as Abu Hamza al-Qurayshi is ISIS's new spokesperson, according to Thursday's announcement.
- Though ISIS no longer has a so-called caliphate, analysts have warned that the terror group is far from defeated and still poses a threat.
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ISIS on Thursday announced it has a new leader as it confirmed the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who blew himself up amid a US-led raid on a compound in Syria's Idlib province over the weekend.
Baghdadi's successor is Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Qurayshi, according to Site Intel Group, which tracks the online activities of extremist groups like ISIS. This is a nom de guerre, according to top analysts, and signals that the new leader is indicating he's descended from the Qurayshi tribe of the Prophet Muhammad.
Baghdadi also claimed to be descended from this tribe in order to establish his legitimacy as "caliph" or leader of the Islamic world. ISIS is referring to Baghdadi's successor as the "caliph" as well.
The name Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Qurayshi is largely unknown but a top researcher on ISIS at Swansea University, Aymenn al-Tamimi, suggested to Reuters it could be Amir Muhammad Sa'id Abdal Rahman al-Mawla.
Al-Mawla, who has also been linked to the aliases "Hajj Abdullah" and "Abdullah Qardash," has been named by the State Department as a "potential successor" to Baghdadi. According to a notice from the State Department's Rewards for Justice Program, al-Mawla was a "religious scholar" in the extremist group ISIS grew out of - Al Qaeda in Iraq - and "steadily rose through the ranks to assume a senior leadership role for ISIS."
The notice also states that al-Mawla "helped drive and justify the abduction, slaughter, and trafficking of the Yazidi religious minority in northwest Iraq and is believed to oversee some of the group's global terrorist operations".
ISIS on Thursday also confirmed that its spokesperson, Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir, was killed in a separate, subsequent US strike that was conducted after the Baghdadi raid. A man identified as Abu Hamza al-Qurayshi is ISIS's new spokesperson, according to Thursday's announcement, which came via an audiotape that was released online.
This announcement came several days after President Donald Trump on Sunday spent nearly an hour speaking about the Baghdadi operation in a celebratory and self-congratulatory fashion.
Trump's remarks on the Baghdadi raid have sparked criticism, as the vivid details he provided seemingly revealed classified information. The president also appeared to have made false claims about the operation, including that the ISIS leader was "whimpering," that's left US officials scratching their heads as to where he got such info.
Though ISIS no longer has a so-called caliphate - or the large swath of territory that was roughly the side of Maryland that it once held across Iraq and Syria - analysts have warned that it is far from defeated and still poses a threat.
ISIS's announcement on Thursday warned the US against rejoicing in Baghdadi's death.
"Beware vengeance (against) their nation and their brethren of infidels and apostates, and carrying out the will of the commander of the faithful in his last audio message, and getting closer to God with the blood of polytheists," an ISIS spokesman said in the tape, according a translation reported by Reuters.
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- Trump downplayed central role Kurds played in Baghdadi raid after abandoning them in Syria
- Baghdadi's death could be a 'propaganda bonanza' for ISIS and incite more violence
- Trump says he's bringing US troops home from 'endless wars,' but he's actually building up forces in the Middle East
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