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New IS leader takes over following Baghdadi’s death

A closer look at the Islamic State's first leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's chosen successor, Abdullah Qardash, offers some insight into what's next for the terror group.
A picture taken on October 28, 2019 shows Syrian bikers riding past a damaged car at the site of a suspected US-led operation against Islamic State (IS) chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi the previous day, on the edge of the small Syrian village of Barisha in the country's opposition-held northwestern Idlib province. - US President Donald Trump announced that Baghdadi, the elusive leader of the jihadist group and the world's most wanted man, was killed in the early hours of Octobe 27 in an overnight US raid near th

The death of the Islamic State’s erstwhile caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, raises major questions about the eschatological group’s future. It is difficult to predict how IS' momentum and popularity will change in Iraq and Syria in the aftermath of Baghdadi’s death. It is also unclear how this symbolic event will play out in terms of the terror group's operations, strategies, tactics, priorities and structure. As the extremist group fights to regain influence and power in these two countries, the ascendancy of Baghdadi’s successor could lead to divisions and internal struggles that severely weaken IS. By the same token, new leadership also has the potential to re-energize the terror franchise and help IS achieve its goals.

It is logical to assume that IS began preparing for Baghdadi’s death long ago. Ever since many state and non-state actors began waging military operations against the group in 2014 — with the capture or killing of Baghdadi a high priority for many of them — he was a target at every moment throughout the final years of his life. In August, the IS-linked Amaq news outlet reported that Baghdadi anointed his successor, Abdullah Qardash.  p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 14.0px Times; color: #101010; -webkit-text-stroke: #101010} span.s1 {font-kerning: none} span.s2 {font-kerning: none; background-color: #fffb01} span.s3 {font: 14.0px Calibri; font-kerning: none; color: #000000; -webkit-text-stroke: 0px #000000} The decision to select a successor was never confirmed by IS, and some have disputed the authenticity of the Amaq statement.

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