ISIS names new leader after killing of Al Baghdadi
ISIS named its new leader, five days after the death of former head Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi in a US raid.
The group’s new spokesman Abu Hamza Al Qurayshi confirmed the appointment of Abu Ibrahim Al Hashimi Al Qurayshi.
The announcement on Thursday was made using an audio message posted to ISIS channels on encrypted messaging app Telegram.
The message said the “Shura Council of ISIS, after consultation, agreed to act upon Baghdadi’s will and pledge allegiance to Abu Ibrahim Al Hashimi Al Qurayshi”, said Rita Katz, director of the Site Intelligence Group.
Abu Hamza replaces Abu Hassan Al Muhajir as the group’s spokesman, who was killed by Kurdish fighters in a raid with US special forces. Al Baghdadi killed himself using an explosive vest during a US operation in Barisha, Syria.
The audio message warned the US not to rejoice in the killing of its leader, and claimed the group would continue to operate outside the Middle East.
The ISIS spokesman described Mr Trump as “a crazy old man” and said “do not rejoice America, the new chosen one will make you forget the horror you have beholden ... and make the achievements of the Baghdadi days taste sweet”.
Aymenn Al Tamimi, a researcher at Swansea University in the UK focusing on ISIS, said the name of the new leader was unknown but could refer to a figure in the group, Hajj Abdullah, whom the US State Department had identified as a possible successor to Baghdadi.
The US released a video of the raid that led to the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi in Idlib, Syria, and gave a warning that the group may attempt a “retribution attack”.
The video shows night-vision footage from a helicopter in which shots are fired and the assault force approaches a walled compound.
Gen Frank McKenzie of US Central Command, who hosted a briefing where the footage was shown, said that six ISIS members were killed in the attack – four women and two men, including Al Baghdadi.
He also said that two children, believed to be under 12, lost their lives when the militant took them into a “hole” – described as a tunnel in previous announcements – and exploded his suicide vest.
Gen McKenzie said fighters not believed to have been affiliated with Al Baghdadi were killed in air strikes after they fired at the helicopter, and that non-combatants were detained during the mission but later released. US President Donald Trump said during a press briefing on Sunday that at least seven people were killed in addition to the ISIS leader, as well as three children.
“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,” said Gen McKenzie.
“So you can deduce what kind of person he is based on that activity. I’m not able to confirm anything else about his last seconds.”
He also suggested the US military had secured a large amount of intelligence about ISIS’s activities during the raid.
He said that ISIS would probably try to stage some kind of retaliatory attack.
“And we are postured and prepared for that,” he said.
The US raid to find Al Baghdadi, who had been falsely reported as dead several times before, was dedicated to Kayla Mueller, an American aid worker who was taken as a hostage and raped by the militant.
He was buried at sea at an undisclosed location.
Footage released by the US military shows the compound where ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi was hiding in Idlib, Syria. Above right, Gen Frank McKenzie at a press briefing where the footage was shown