BAGHDADI … IS confirms ‘martyrdom’ of Baghdadi, says it has named a new commander in his place

The spot in Idlib, north-wesetern Syria where Abu Bakr al Baghdadi was killed by US special forces…

DUBAI (UAE): The “martyrdom” of Islamic State commander Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi at the hands of the US special force was confirmed in a statement by the jihadist group on Thursday and said his successor is Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi, who headed its legal wing. “We mourn you… commander of the faithful,” said Abu Hamza al-Quraishi — the group’s new spokesman via an audio statement.
The group also confirmed the killing in another raid the following day of the group’s previous spokesman Abu Hassan al-Muhajir. The Islamic State’s legislative and consultative body convened after Baghdadi’s death in Idlib, Syria’s north-western province this past week. The 48-year-old Baghdadi led IS since 2014 and was the world’s most wanted man. The IS statement said, “The Islamic State shura council convened immediately after confirming the martyrdom of Sheikh Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and the elders of the holy warriors agreed on a replacement at the top,” said the seven-minute message.
The IS spokesman warned the United States to beware. “Crazy old man” was how he called US President Donald Trump who announced Baghdadi’s death in a televised address from the White House on Sunday. Trump stated then that Baghdadi died after running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering and crying and screaming all the way. He added that Baghdadi “died like a dog”.
 “Do not rejoice America,” the spokesman warned. “The new chosen one will make you forget the horror you have beholden… and make the achievements of the Baghdadi days taste sweet.”
Syrian Kurdish forces run prisons in northeastern Syria where around 12,000 IS suspects are held. Most of those prisoners are Iraqis or Syrians but the detainees also include more than 2,000 foreigners, including many women, who hail from more than 50 different countries.
In years-long battles, with aerial and logistical assistance from an international coalition led by the US, the Iraqi and Syrian forces have wrested back all the territory lost to IS in 2014. Fighters from the newly-formed IS group that year swept through much of the Sunni heartland in Iraq and Syria to declare a “caliphate” that further expanded to reach roughly the size of Great Britain. Years of battles led to the elimination in 2019 of IS’ self-declared territorial “caliphate”, ending an unprecedented experiment in jihadist statehood which saw a well-organised administration mint its own currency, produce school textbooks and levy taxes. But while that entity collapsed in March in the remote eastern Syrian village of Baghouz, the organisation went underground and reverted to well-honed guerrilla tactics that continue to do hurt its targets.
A recent Turkish invasion targeting the Kurdish forces that had fought against IS in Baghouz has wrought havoc in northeastern Syria, whose geopolitical map is being redrawn. Observers have warned that the power vacuum and confusion may create an opportunity for IS to rebuild and make fresh territorial gains. IS has a very horizontal structure, analysts say, and the impact of a decapitation strike may be more symbolic than operational, leaving the group’s global jihadist brand and efficiency as an insurgency largely intact. == Agencies, IHN-NN

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