Abu Bakr al Baghdadi's successor was reportedly named a few hours after his death and he is apparently a founding Daesh member whose rulings led to the infamous enslavement of Yazidis.
Amir Mohammed Abdul Rahman al Mawli al Salbi is the successor of Daesh, the Guardian newspaper has revealed, saying it confirmed the news with officers from two intelligence services, which weren't revealed in the report.
The report said Salbi was named a few hours after Baghdadi killed himself detonating an explosives-laden vest during a US raid in Syria’s Idlib in late October, 2019.
The group however named Abu Ibrahim al Hashimi al Quraishi as the successor. But many security analysts believe it's a pseudonym used to shield the new leader from the radar of intelligence agencies.
The other name that made rounds in the media as Baghdadi's replacement was Al Haj Abdullah Qardash.
Both Qardash and Salbi are Iraqi Turkmen from Tal Afar. Both are Daesh's non-Arab founding members. Salbi is known to be a sharia law graduate from the University of Mosul.
Since Daesh keeps giving new fake names to its members in order to dodge the security and intelligence agencies, Salbi was also known as Haji Abdullah, as per the Guardian report, and following the same logic "some circles" suggest Abdullah Qardash is one of Salbi’s many coded names. The Iraqi officials however believe Qardash is a different Daesh figure.
Underwriting the violence against the Yazidi minority and occupying Iraq’s Christian Nineveh Plains region after a spasm of killing and destruction were among the crimes that were reportedly carried out with the blessing of Salbi’s religious rulings.
In 2014, Salbi was imprisoned in the American Camp Bucca in southern Iraq, where the foundations of the terror group were believed to be laid. There, he met with Baghdadi and became one of his closest companions. With a $5m bounty on his head, Baghdadi was already marked as a target by the US before the US special forces’ bombing that set a snare for him.
It’s not clear yet if the new leadership will lead to a reinvention of the group as it has been striving to regain the momentum it had in 2014 when Baghdadi declared a so-called caliphate. The group ramped up its attacks in the second half of last year, especially at the border of Syria and Iraq, and showed signs of regrouping after its territorial defeat in both countries. Between just December 20 and 26, the group claimed 106 attacks.
The US-led coalition against Daesh announced it was suspending its counter operations against the group in order to “fully commit to protecting the Iraqi bases that host Coalition troops”. This came amid tensions between Washington and Tehran after the US assassination of Qasem Sulaimani, the Iranian commander who led Iran’s proxy wars in the region.
The whereabouts of Salbi are unknown, but according to The Guardian, citing the intelligence officers report, he is likely to stay in the west of Mosul.