The Islamic State militant group has appointed a new leader to spearhead the terrorist campaign in the wake of the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Saturday night.
Al-Baghdadi’s successor is believed to be Abdullah Qardash, also known as Hajji Abdullah al-Afari.
He was recruited by Al-Baghdadi in August to help run the group’s ‘Muslim affairs’, according to ISIS Official Amaq news outlet.
While Qardash’s promotion was well circulated among militants, the successor was never officially sworn in by the group, according to Newsweek reports.
The former Iraqi military officer served Saddam Hussein and it is thought he would have taken over Baghdadi’s role but it lost its prominence by the time of his death.
Little is known about Qardash and details of the death of Al-Baghdadi are still emerging.
Al-Baghdadi’s death is symbolic among ISIS militants – though his death will not have come as a surprise, The Telegraph reported.
ISIS has been preparing for the demise of Al-Baghdadi for some time, becoming decentralised with an emphasis on grooming multiple leaders in preparation, said James Clapper, former director of US National Intelligence.
Al-Baghdadi, one of the world’s most wanted men, killed himself during a joint raid between Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces and US forces in northern Syria last night.
US President Donald Trump said he detonated a suicide vest when troops stormed his hideout in Idlib after ‘crying and whimpering’.
Mr Trump added: ”He reached the end of the tunnel as our dogs chased him down. He ignited his vest, killing himself and his three children.
“His body was mutilated by the blasts. The tunnel had caved on him.”
After the US-led invasion that ended President Saddam Hussein’s reign in 2003, Baghdadi helped to found an Islamist insurgent group called Jamaat Jaysh Ahl al-Sunnah wa-I-Jamaah that targeted US soldiers.
Within the group, he was the head of the Sharia committee.
Later he carved his caliphate out of Al-Qaeda’s Iraqi militant branch, however, his hard-line cleric’s role was largely symbolic, Newsweek added.