Five after days after the U.S. conducted a punishing air and ground assault in Idlib, Syria to kill its founding father, ISIS has named Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s replacement.
In a message posted Thursday (October 31) by its official media division, ISIS claimed that Abu Ibrahim Hashimi al-Qurayshi is its new leader. In its chilling announcement, ISIS also acknowledged the recent U.S-orchestrated deaths of Al-Baghdadi, as well as Abu Hassan al-Muhajir.
Al-Muhajir was declared dead by U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday (October 29).
Trump’s social media post came after the rag tag Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a U.S.-backed rebel group, conducted a kill operation on Sunday (October 27) in Jaraboul, Syria. Mazloum Abdî, commander of the SDF, made a Twitter posting that day, which announced Al-Muhajir’s death.
The audio message posted Thursday by ISIS called for the group to support the rebuilding vision of its new leader. Over the last several years, ISIS has sustained massive military losses at the hands of Kurdish militias, anti-Syrian government militias, regional governments (Syria and Iraq), and world superpowers (U.S. and Russia).
But in a statement of defiance, the ISIS spokesman on the audio message makes it very clear that the jihadist group still lives and will fight on. The new ISIS spokesman is believed to be a man who goes by the name Abu Hamza al-Qurayshi.
“Do not rejoice, America, in killing Sheikh al-Baghdadi. Do you not realize that the [Islamic] State stands today at the doorsteps of Europe and Central Africa? Nay; it is expanding and persisting,” the spokesman said via the ISIS social media channel.
“Do you not see how you have become the laughingstock of the nations? Your destiny [is] ruled by an old fool who goes to sleep with one opinion, and wakes with another,” he continued.
Also during the audio recording, the ISIS spokesman claimed that the group’s shadowy Consultative Council made the decision to name Al-Qurayshi as its new leader. Little is known about Al-Qurayshi and the name ISIS uses to identify him is a pseudonym.
ISIS claims that Al-Qurayshi is a veteran of the global jihad that has been fought against Western nations for years. His assumed last name comes from Quraysh, the tribe that the Koranic prophet Muhammad’s Hashemite Clan came from.