ISIS Has Announced Its New Leader

The brother of slain former leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is the terror group's new “caliph”, its spokesperson announced.
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PHOTO: AFP via Getty Images

ISIS has revealed its new leader 6 weeks after its previous “caliph” was killed in a US air raid while hiding out in a small town in Syria.

Abu al-Hassan al-Qurayshi was named by the terror group as its new chief via a voice note on ISIS media channels, which called for all followers to pledge their allegiance to him.   

Abu Omar al-Muhajir, the group’s spokesperson, confirmed the death of the second and short-reigned caliph Abu Ibrahim al-Qurayshi, who died after he detonated his suicide belt during the US-led operation in early February.

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Muhajir also confirmed the death of the group’s former spokesperson Abu Hamza al-Qurayshi in the audio recording, who is reported to have died in the same blast. 

A Reuters report citing Iraqi and foreign intelligence sources said that the new caliph is Juma al-Badri, the older brother of Ibrahim al-Badri, better known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who also blew himself up after his hideout in Idlib was raided in a US-led special operation in October 2019.

Baghdadi crowned himself caliph during an infamous speech after taking over Mosul in 2014. He ruled over an organisation built around his Islamist inner circles, and officers of the Baathist regime he led in Bucca prison camp run by US soldiers after the Iraq invasion of 2003. 

ISIS, a Sunni insurgency that has roots in al-Qaeda, established its de facto rule in 2014 and implemented its uniquely harsh methods of killing civilians and an efficient propaganda campaign. It was known for regular beheadings, mass murders and the enslavement of Yazidi women. After a protracted war, the group's complete territorial defeat was announced by the US- and Kurdish-led anti-ISIS coalition in Iraq in 2017 and Syria in 2019.

Despite calls for global jihad that led to thousands of foreign extremist sympathisers joining the group, Baghdadi kept the ruling council built around Iraqis.

Due to its underground nature, the group’s senior Islamists use multiple nicknames to avoid detection while moving between places; Qurayshi has been a go-to title for the caliph as it symbolises lineage to the Arab clan of the Prophet Mohammed. 

This claim is merely used to enforce legitimacy, even though the recently killed caliph was of Turkmen origin, but he went on to have the same title.

The new leader of the terror group is known for heading ISIS’s five-membered Shura council in the shadow of his younger brother. The Shura is the body that oversees the group’s affairs in case of arrest or death of a caliph and decides on a successor. 

Muhajir urged the group's jihadi franchise worldwide to pledge allegiance to the newly appointed caliph. Over the weekend, ISIS-K, the group’s  Afghan branch, posted messages of their allegiance.