The name Abi Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi may sound strange, but experts say the new IS leader may have used a new name.
The self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) yesterday released a recording confirming the supreme leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had died and urged gunmen to take revenge. They announced that Baghdadi's successor was Abi Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi.
IS fighters at Tel Abyad, Syria in January 2014. Image: Reuters.
There is not much information about the new IS leader, as the leaders of the organization often use new names after being assigned to a position. It is highly likely that up to a week ago, Abi Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi used a different name.
Based on the IS data provided in the recording, expert Hassan Hassan said that Qurashi was a longtime member of the group, possibly before the Islamic State reached Syria between 2013 and 2014. He was a adept commander on the battlefield and deeply knowledgeable about religion.
The Qurashi is essentially the tribal name of the prophet Mohammed. This naming pattern shows that like Baghdadi, the new IS leader also claimed to have a lineage related to the prophet Mohammed. IS considered this a prerequisite for choosing the supreme leader.
Aymenn al-Tamimi, a researcher at Swansea University, said that Abu Ibrahim al Hashimi al Qurayshi could actually be Hajj Abdullah. The US State Department identified Abdullah as the successor to Baghdadi before IS announced. They offered a $ 5 million reward to anyone who provided the name. "It may be someone we know. He may have just taken a new name," Tamimi said.
"The leaked IS documents show he is a deputy of Baghdadi," Tamimi added. "Apart from a number of documents that mention Hajj Abdullah, there is not much information about him except that he heads the Delegate Committee – the IS administration."
Hisham al-Hashemi, an IS expert, said that Abdullah may have difficulty leading IS because he is not an Iraqi or Syrian – the majority of IS. "Maybe there will be juniors who will not obey," he said.
Meanwhile, there is some speculation that Abi Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi was actually Abdullah Qardash, a former Iraqi army officer who had been imprisoned with Baghdadi in a US-run Camp Bucca prison.
However, Hashemi quoted Iraqi intelligence sources as saying that Qardash had died since 2017. "The daughter of Qardash is being held by Iraqi intelligence," he said. "Both she and other relatives confirmed he died in 2017."
Hashemi also pointed out that Qardash is a Turk from the Tal Afar region of Iraq, so he could not become the leader of the ISIS because he does not belong to the Qurashi tribe.
Abdullah Qardash. Image: NYPost.
The new IS leader will inherit the difficult task of leading an organization that has lost strength and lost territory in Iraq and Syria. Internal IS has been divided in recent months. Some militants blamed Baghdadi for the decline of the organization.
Now Baghdadi is dead, "ISIS affiliates may 'change their heart" or simply not re-commit their loyalty to Baghdadi's successor, "said Nate Rosenblatt, a jihad researcher.
This could give power to ISIS rival jihad groups in Syria such as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (once a branch of al-Qaeda in Syria) and Hurras al-Deen, linked to al-Qaeda. . Both organizations are trying to root out IS.
But Max Abrahms, a professor of political science at Northeastern University in Boston, thinks the daily activities of the IS will not be affected. "It is the same for choosing who is Baghdadi's successor. In decision making, operation and recruitment, IS splits power among the leaders more than al-Qaeda."
Osama bin Laden, the founder of al-Qaeda, was killed in the US raid in 2011. "When bin Laden was killed, the question of who will replace him makes more sense, because bin Laden controls al-Qaeda more than the way Baghdadi does with IS, "Abrahms added.
Phương Vũ (Follow AFP / Reuters)