Smarting under the heavy blow it received in the killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Isis jihadist group named a new leader on Thursday and pledged to take the battle to America and Europe's doorsteps. In the process, the terror group also confirmed the death of Baghdadi, under whose leadership the outfit announced a 'Caliphate' in parts of Syria and Iraq in 2014 and butchered thousands of people.
"We mourn you ... commander of the faithful," the terror group said paying homage to Baghdadi. "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," the message said.
The jihadist group said Baghdadi's successor will be Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Qurashi. The group made the announcement on the messaging service Telegram hours after the US released conclusive evidence about the killing of Baghdadi in a raid in northern Syria over the weekend.
In the audio message published on the terrorist group's media wing al-Furqan, Isis also issued fresh warnings and threats to the US. "America, do not be happy with the killing of Sheikh al-Baghdadi ... Do you not realize that the State today is not only on the doorstep of Europe and in the center of Africa, it is staying and expanding from the east to the west," the new spokesman of the group, Abu Hamza al-Qarshi, said.
Earlier, the US had confirmed that Isis spokesman Abu Hasan al-Muhajir was killed by American troops in northern Syria. On Wednesday, the Pentagon released the first footage from the operation that killed Baghdadi in a hideout in the Bashar village in northern Syria. The 43-second video of the raid showed US troops moving towards a compound in which the Isis leader was in hiding. After the raid, the compound was destroyed by the troops, the grainy video showed. A day earlier, the US said Baghdadi's mutilated body was buried at an unknown location at sea after DNA testing confirmed his identity.
Who is Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Qurashi?
There isn't lot of information yet on the new leader of the Sunni Islamist terror group. Isis said the new leader is a "prominent figure in jihad" and that the veteran fighter had fought against the US in the past. It did not share a photo of the new leader. The new Isis spokesman said the terror group's Shura Council was convened after Baghdadi's death to pledge allegiance to Hashemi.
By choosing someone from the Quraysh tribe, Isis has pledged to carry on with the legacy of leadership in the extremist group. Al-Qurashi suggests the man hails from the Quraysh tribe from which Prophet Mohammad came. For the Sunni terror group, only a person coming from the tribe of Prophet Mohammad can become the caliph of the Islamic state. Baghdadi too had claimed to be a direct descendant of Prophet Muhammad. A brief biography of al-Baghdadi posted online in 2014 had traced his lineage to the tribe, according to Al Jazeera.
Observers of jihadist groups have been watching who Isis would anoint as Baghdadi's successor. "If IS chooses to appoint someone who is not a Qurashi, then perhaps it is an implicit acknowledgement that the 'caliphate' is no more," BBC jihadist media specialist Mina al-Lami said.
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria ceased to exist in March in physical form but the movement still has a lot of followers. It is estimated to have between 14,000 and 18,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria, according to the US.