Islamic State announces death of its leader and name of successor
Terrorism & Radicalization

Islamic State announces death of its leader and name of successor

By Giulio Valenti

On November 30, a voice message was shared on Telegram chats affiliated with the Islamic State (IS), announcing the death of the third caliph Abu al-Hassan al-Hashemi al-Quraishi. The deceased leader, whose real name is Juma Awad al-Badri, was the brother of the Islamic State’s first caliph, known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. An Iraqi national, al-Badri served for a long time on the IS shura council, helping to decide the group’s strategies and outline leadership successions, until his appointment as the third caliph.

The IS announcement also stressed that Abu al-Hassan died fighting, without specifying further details. It is the U.S. military command in the Middle East who informed that the militiaman’s death occurred in mid-October during a Free Syrian Army (FSA) military operation in Syria’s Daraa province.

The terrorist organization, moreover, has not hesitated to publicise the name of the successor as new leader, Abu al-Husayn al-Husayni al-Quraishi, IS’s fourth caliph. As was the case with previous leaders, who never appeared in the group’s media, IS does not reveal details about his real identity, but rather provides an alias, an illustrious nom de guerre that serves to legitimize his office, placing him in a dynastic line that starts with the Prophet Mohammad. It is no coincidence that rival jihadist groups have sharply criticized IS militants’ practice of pledging allegiance to a “faceless” leader, whose physical and mental integrity and descent from the Prophet necessary for the office of leader cannot be known.

Moreover, unlike the deaths of previous leaders, where IS waited before releasing the name successors, the announcement of the new appointment came simultaneously with the news of Abu al-Hassan al-Hashemi al-Quraishi’s death, averting any fragility due to the power vacuum. Supporters of the IS are prepared to renew their loyalty pact in the organization’s Telegram groups, as demanded by official spokesman Abu Omar al-Muhajir.

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