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After the death of its leader during a US raid, four leading Jihadists may be in contention as Islamic State (ISIS) successor

The 45-year-old Qurayshi death was a big blow to ISIS which had lost its foremost leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a similar raid in 2019 (Image courtesy: Twitter/@tr_ttmt)

After Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, the leader of the Islamic State (ISIS) blew himself up last week when cornered during a US raid in Syria, the deadly terror group may have narrowed down on four individuals for choosing a successor.

The 45-year-old Qurayshi death was a big blow to ISIS which had lost its foremost leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a similar raid in 2019.

Qurayshi, also known as ‘The Professor’ who had a $10million bounty on his head, blew himself up along with his family after US forces cornered him in his northern Syrian camp

The Daily Mail is quoting Fadhil Abu Rgheef, an Iraqi security expert, quoted him as saying that there were at least four possible successors.

“These include… Abu Khadija, whose last known role was Iraq leader for Islamic State, Abu Muslim, its leader for Anbar province, and another called Abu Salih, of whom there’s very little information but who was close to Baghdadi and Qurayshi,” he said.

“There’s also Abu Yasser al-Issawi, who is suspected to be still alive. He’s valuable to the group as he has long military experience.”

The daily said that Iraqi forces as well as the US-led military coalition fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria had orchestrated Issawi’s death in an air strike in January 2021. .

But this view has been contradicted by an Iraqi security official, who said that there were strong suspicions that Issawi is still alive.

“If he’s not dead he’d be a candidate, he’s tried and tested in planning military attacks and has thousands of supporters,” the official was quoted as saying.

He added that ISIS is probably carrying out a security review to learn the source of the possible leak that compromised Qurayshi’s location and led to his death, before announcing a successor.

The daily also quoted Hassan Hassan, editor of New Lines magazine as saying that the new leader would be a veteran Iraqi jihadist.

“If they choose one in the coming weeks they’ll have to choose someone from among the same circle… the group that was part of the Anbari group which operated under (the name) ISIS since the early days,” he said.

Rgheef thought that the new leader could have stronger military credentials than Qurayshi, who Iraqi officials say was seen by followers as more of an Islamic legal mind than a military man.

“Attacks and operations will change in character depending on the style of the new leader. The new one might believe in big and intensive attacks, bombs or suicide bombers,”he said. 

According to the newspaper, the ISIS militants after their defeat in Iraq in 2017 and Syria in 2019, have managed regular cross border movements through unmonitored gaps between jurisdictions of different armed forces across the 600-kilometer border. They also made use of underground tunnels to infiltrate.  

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