‘Evil warrior’, or ‘teacher’ – how dangerous the new leader of Islamic State is?

WASHINGTON, MOSCOW, (BM) – The United States recognized Abdul Rahman al-Mawli al-Salbi, who led the Islamic State after the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as an international terrorist. Five million dollars are promised for his head. What is known for the new leader of IS?

Terrorism as a pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic is so alarming to American society that it seemed that politicians could not think of anything else. Nevertheless, the situation in the Middle East and the threat of the Islamic State are still in Washington’s field of vision.

“After the death of the leader of the IS Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, his place was taken by Amir Mohammed Abdul Rahman al-Mawli al-Salbi. The new leader had a hand in the creation of this terrorist organization, was involved in kidnapping, participated in the reprisals against the Yezidis, a religious minority in the north western Iraq – and oversaw major operations,” said the State Department.

Rahman Al-Salbi was recognized as an international terrorist. This means that US citizens are prohibited from any contact with him. All of his property in American jurisdiction will be blocked. “The United States has virtually destroyed the caliphate in Syria and Iraq. But we continue to fight with its branches around the world. And the IS leaders are our priority goals,” the State Department emphasized.

Confusion in names and regalia

They talked about al-Salbi in the world after the Americans destroyed al-Baghdadi in October 2019. While Donald Trump talked about the special operation, special services established that IS was headed by Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Kurashi. Information about him was extremely contradictory.

Another possible successor was named: Abdullah Kardash. At the same time, confusion arose with another militant – al-Kurashi. Both terrorists are from the ethnic minority of Iraqi Turkmens, both served in the army of Saddam Hussein and fought with the Americans.

Both of them are very influential, propagandizing the ideology of IS in Syria and Iraq. However, in 2017 it was reported that Kardash was killed. His daughter confirmed this.

Intelligence agencies pointed to al-Mawli al-Salbi. His name sounded in the intercepted conversations of the Islamists. At the same time, no one has ever seen these three al-Baghdadi associates with their own eyes.

There was a version that we are talking about one person, and different names are needed for cover. Now Western intelligence agencies are almost certain that al-Salbi and al-Kurashi are one and the same person.

Fanatic speaker

Not everyone in IS accepted the new leader. Many militants were outraged that al-Salbi was not an Arab. This means that he can never become a recognized authority in the caliphate with the Arab majority. But al-Baghdadi saw in him the most worthy successor, so non-Arab origin was faded into the background.

Al-Salbi is from the Turkoman family. In Iraq, it is the third largest nation after Arabs and Kurds. Rod al-Salbi is considered akin to the prophet Muhammad, which is very important.

Al-Baghdadi’s successor graduated from Islamic University in Mosul and earned a degree in Sharia law. He met the founder of IS in 2004, in prison, where both ended up after the American campaign in Iraq. They agreed on sympathies for al-Qaeda.

The fanaticism of al-Salbi ensured him a rapid advancement in the ranks of the caliphate. Al-Baghdadi immediately appointed him the ideologist of the Islamic State, and he immediately engaged in propaganda. Al-Salbi so earnestly preached Islamic fundamentalism that in IS he was called the “evil warrior”, as well as the “teacher.”

Al-Salbi’s speeches about the world caliphate have always attracted great attention. Rumor had it that al-Baghdadi was even jealous of his popularity. However, after the defeat of the IS, the leaders had to rally the demoralized militants, and al-Salbi’s eloquence was very useful.

Report to terrorists

The Arabist, the head of scientific research at the Dialogue of Civilizations Institute, Alexei Malashenko, believes that the State Department’s statement about the new leader is an attempt to report and show that the fight against IS continues.

“First, there was Osama bin Laden. The figure was charismatic, dangerous and significant. He was replaced by al-Baghdadi – an influential terrorist, but still not comparable in importance with the first. Al-Salbi is a trifle for Americans. However, it is important to declare intransigence with IS,” – explains the expert.

And the terrorists still pose a serious threat. “Although IS is defeated, the idea of ​​a universal caliphate is still alive. The movement may revive in southern Libya, in Somalia, Nigeria. Preventive measures are needed,” Malashenko believes.

An expert on Islamic organizations, an expert at the Center for the Study of Modern Afghanistan, Andrei Serenko, believes that al-Salbi among militants is not as authoritative as his predecessors. The authorities of Iraq and the United States play on this, trying to demoralize the remnants of the Islamic State.

“It seemed that this radical organization would not be reborn. But the Pentagon and Iraqi special services have long been sounding the alarm due to the strengthening of IS in Iraq and eastern Syria. Many areas of these countries have no control. Therefore, special services are looking for unconventional ways to fight terrorists. State Department statements – confirmation that the fight against terrorism is not over,” concludes Serenko.


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Editorial team / RIA Novosti / Galya Ibrahimova

The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.