The new leader of Daesh, whose appointment the group announced yesterday, is the brother of slain former caliph Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, according to two Iraqi security officials and one Western security source, Reuters reports.
Islamic State named its new leader Abu Al-Hassan Al-Hashemi al-Quraishi in a recorded audio message distributed online.
The announcement came weeks after the death last month of Abu Ibrahim Al-Quraishi, the man who in turn succeeded Al-Baghdadi in 2019 and became the group’s second so-called caliph. Both Al-Baghdadi and Al-Quraishi died by blowing themselves and family members up during US raids on their hideouts in northern Syria.
Daesh emerged from the chaos of the civil war in neighbouring Syria last decade and took over vast swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014. Al-Baghdadi declared an Islamic caliphate from a mosque in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul in 2014 and proclaimed himself caliph of all Muslims.
The group’s brutal rule, during which it killed and executed thousands of people in the name of its narrow interpretation of Islam, came to an end in Mosul when Iraqi and international forces defeated the group there in 2017.
Its remaining thousands of militants have in recent years mostly hid out in remote territory but are still able to carry out significant insurgent-style attacks.
The new leader’s real name is Juma Awad Al-Badri, he is Iraqi and Al-Baghdadi’s elder brother, two Iraqi security officials told Reuters today. A Western security official confirmed the two men were brothers but did not specify which was older. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorised to speak to media.
Little is known about Al-Badri, but he comes from a close circle of shadowy, battle-hardened Iraqi jihadists who emerged in the aftermath of the 2003 US invasion.
“Badri is a radical who joined salafi jihadist groups in 2003 and was known to always accompany Baghdadi as a personal companion and Islamic legal adviser,” one of the Iraqi security officials said.
The official said Al-Badri has long been head of Daesh’s Shura Council, a leadership group that guides strategy and decides succession when a caliph is killed or captured.
The audio recording announcing the new leader said he had been named by Al-Quraishi as his successor before his death.