The Islamic State finally acknowledged the death of former “commander of the faithful” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Thursday and announced his successor, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi, who was given the additional surname “al-Qurashi” to highlight his purported connection to the tribe of Mohammed.
The announcement came in an audio release from the al-Furqan Foundation, the media arm of the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL). The seven-minute message urged all ISIS followers to swear fealty to Hashimi and accept him as the new caliph. They were additionally urged to carry out Baghdadi’s final orders to free captive ISIS fighters from prison camps and recruit additional jihadis to the cause.
The message also formally announced the death of Baghdadi’s spokesman and adviser, Abu Hassan al-Muhajir, who was killed by a U.S. airstrike soon after Baghdadi killed himself and murdered three of his children with a suicide vest. President Donald Trump described Muhajir as the “number one replacement” candidate for Baghdadi.
The ISIS communique was delivered by an individual named Abu Hamza al-Qurashi who was identified as the new spokesman for the terrorist gang.
“Do not rejoice America,” Hamza warned. “The new chosen one will make you forget the horror you have beholden … and make the achievements of the Baghdadi days taste sweet.”
“The statement also contained threats against America, referred to U.S. President Donald Trump as a senile old man and warned that what’s to come will be worse by comparison to the days of the group under Baghdadi’s leadership,” Bloomberg News reported.
Hashimi is currently a fairly obscure figure in the Islamic State. He is not one of the three prominent ISIS officers whom analysts view as likely successors, unless the name “Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi” is simply a new pseudonym for one of those individuals.
Rukmini Callimachi of the New York Times, a veteran writer on Islamic State affairs, noted that both the new ISIS leader and spokesman were given very generic names, which could mean the terrorist group is “purposefully obscuring the IDs of ISIS’ new leaders.”
According to the al-Furqan statement, “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” Hashimi should be the new leader.