Iraq News

New ISIS chief 'a nobody': US official



A picture taken on October 27th shows Mosul's al-Nuri Mosque and the remains of the destroyed "Al-Hadba" leaning minaret in the former ISIS stronghold in Mosul, where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi addressed followers in 2014. Al-Baghdadi was killed in a US special operation in the Idlib region of north-western Syria on October 27th. [Zaid al-Obeidi/AFP]

The new leader of the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) group is "a nobody" with little apparent reputation but the US hopes he will be killed soon, a US official said Wednesday (November 7th).

The group last week announced Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Qurashi as its new leader after a US commando raid killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the chief of the ultra-violent movement.

A senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that monitoring of ISIS social media indicates that even followers did not know much about al-Hashemi.

"That has become a major issue in, if you will, the ISIS social media world. This guy appears to be a nobody," the official told reporters.

"What little we know about him, we are not impressed. And if he is in Iraq or Syria, we do not think he is too long for the world anyway," he said.

The official declined to offer further details, including whether, like al-Baghdadi, al-Hashemi had been detained at some point by US forces.

Al-Baghdadi, who led ISIS since 2014, had become the world's most wanted person for the militants' grisly attacks both in the region and abroad.

ISIS confirmed that the 48-year-old Iraqi died in the raid in Syria's north-western Idlib province.

Baghdadi's wife revealed ISIS secrets

Meanwhile, Turkey revealed on Wednesday that it had detained the "first wife" of al-Baghdadi last year.

A Turkish official said Thursday that al-Baghdadi's spouse identified herself as Rania Mahmoud but was in fact Asma Fawzi Muhammad al-Qubaysi.

The woman was arrested on June 2nd, 2018 in the province of Hatay, near the Syrian border, along with 10 others, including al-Baghdadi's daughter, who identified herself as Leila Jabeer.

The official said the family links were confirmed using a DNA sample of al-Baghdadi provided by Iraqi authorities.

The wife of al-Baghdadi revealed "a lot of information" about the extremist group's "inner workings" after she was captured last year, the official said.

"We discovered (the wife's) real identity pretty quickly. At that point, she volunteered a lot of information about al-Baghdadi and the inner workings of ISIS," the official said.

"We were able to confirm a lot of things that we already knew. We also obtained new information that led to a series of arrests elsewhere."

On Tuesday, Turkish forces in northern Syria also captured a sister of al-Baghdadi in a raid near the town of Azaz. She was accompanied by her husband, her daughter-in-law and five children.

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