Iraq: Abu Alaa Afri, ISIS new leader   

Iraq: Abu Alaa Afri, ISIS new leader  

iirrqAfter several media outlets reported that the caliph of the Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was injured in a coalition airstrike in western Iraq last month, Iraqi government adviser Dr Hisham al Hashimi confirmed that the caliph has temporarily handed over power to Abu Alaa Afri due to the injuries he sustained from the bombings.

ISIS has neither confirmed nor denied the reports.

Abu Alaa Afri will henceforth manage the affairs of the Islamic State and Hashimi said in a statement to Newsweek that“he will be the leader of Daesh if Baghdadi dies.” Afri was an Iraqi physics teacher who has been linked with al-Qaeda before joining ISIS.

According to Hashimi, Afri is an influential and charismatic person who “is more important, and smarter, and with better relationships” than al-Baghdadi. There are also reports that Osama bin laden wanted to make him the emir of al-Qaeda in Iraq when senior al-Qaeda operatives Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayyub al-Masri were killed in 2010.

Also known as Haji Iman, Afri rose through the ranks of the ISIS before becoming one of ISIS “most important players”according to Hassan Hassan, Middle East analyst and co-author of ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror, but he stressed that Baghdadi continues to be the “supreme leader” with his generals helping him to “steer the group.”

The former physics teacher is believed to be based in al-Hadar region of Mosul and Hashimi said that “all the leaders of Daesh find that he has much jihadi wisdom, and good capability at leadership and administration” when compared to the allegedly injured caliph.

Fighting has not stopped between ISIS militants and government forces.

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