GP Insights # 177, 3 November 2019
The Islamic State ISIS on 31 October announced a new leader after Abu Bakr-al Baghdadi was killed in a US raid. Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi is now Baghdadi’s successor. The IS media arm Al-Furqan also confirmed the death of Abu Hassan al-Muhajir, Baghdadi’s close-aide. The latter remained the ISIS spokesman since 2016 and was expected to be Baghdadi’s successor.
What is the background?
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the ISIS, was killed in a US raid on 26 October. He headed the ISIS since 2006 and had succeeded Abu Ayyub al-Masri. He rebuilt the ISIS and declared a Caliphate. Under his leadership, the ISIS expanded into significant areas of Syria and Iraq. At its peak, the ISIS had around 40,000 fighters from countries around the world. Baghdadi was also instrumental in ‘inspiring’ lone-wolf attacks across the world as acts of continuing jihad away from the caliphate.
Baghdadi had been a target for the security forces; the US had placed a bounty of 25 million dollars on him. The mission to kill Baghdadi had eight helicopters, Delta Force operators, US ships and aircrafts.
What does it mean?
After Baghdadi’s death, the ISIS was quick in announcing a new leader and a spokesperson. His death, though important for counterterrorism efforts, can be seen only as a symbolic development. Post Baghdadi, the ISIS will continue to evolve.
The ISIS has announced to retaliate. The ISIS is likely to target vulnerable prisons left unguarded by the Kurdish forces near the Syria-Turkey border.