ISIL confirms death of leader al-Baghdadi, names new chief

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) armed group has confirmed the death of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, announcing Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi as its new chief.

Abu Hamza al-Qurayshi, ISIL’s new spokesman, made the announcement on Thursday in an audio statement distributed by the group’s media arm, al-Furqan, days after a weekend raid by US forces that resulted in al-Baghdadi’s death.

“We mourn you … commander of the faithful,” he said, adding that ISIL’s legislative and consultative body convened after the 48-year-old Iraqi-born chief’s death.

“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.

The seven-minute statement did not provide any other details about the new leader and it was not immediately clear who the name was in reference to. ISIL usually identifies its leaders using noms de guerre that refer to their tribal affiliation and lineage. Those names often change.

But the message called on the group’s followers to pledge allegiance to the new leader, whose title indicates that he claims descent from the tribe of Prophet Muhammad. Belonging to the Quraysh tribe has been seen as a prerequisite for becoming a caliph – a brief biography of al-Baghdadi posted to online forums in 2014 had traced his lineage to the tribe.

The statement also confirmed the death of Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir, the group’s spokesman and a close aide to al-Baghdadi

Al-Muhajir was killed in a joint US operation with Kurdish forces in the northern Syrian city of Jarablus hours after al-Baghdadi’s death.

The audio also addressed the United States, saying: “Do not rejoice America. The new chosen one will make you forget the horror you have beholden … and make the achievements of the Baghdadi days taste sweet.” (Courtesy Al Jazeera)

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