Identity of ISIS' new leader revealed

New leader of Islamic State jihadist group has been confirmed as Amir Mohammed Abdul Rahman al-Mawli al-Salbi.

Tags: ISIS
Ben Ariel ,


The new leader of the Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist group has been confirmed as Amir Mohammed Abdul Rahman al-Mawli al-Salbi, officials from two intelligence services told The Guardian on Monday.

He is one of the terror group’s founding members and has led the enslavement of Iraq’s Yazidi minority and has overseen operations around the globe, according to the report.

The Guardian has learned that Salbi was named leader hours after the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a US operation in Syria in October.

The name that the group gave for Baghdadi’s replacement at the time, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi, was a nom de guerre not recognized by other senior leaders or intelligence agencies.

In the three months since the raid that killed Baghdadi, a fuller picture of Salbi has been pieced together by regional and western spies, placing him at the center of ISIS decision-making – and that of its forerunners – and portraying him as a hardened veteran in the same vein as Baghdadi, unflinching in his loyalty to the extremist group.

Salbi is considered to be one of the most influential ideologues among the now depleted ranks of ISIS, according to The Guardian. Born into an Iraqi Turkmen family in the town of Tal Afar, he is one of the few non-Arabs among the leadership.

He is also known by the nom de guerre Haji Abdullah, and in some circles as Abdullah Qardash – although Iraqi officials suggest the latter was a separate ISIS figure who died two years ago.

Salbi rose through the ranks helped by his background as an Islamic scholar and gave religious rulings that underwrote the genocide against Yazidis and the emptying of the Nieveh Plains in northern Iraq during the height of the ISIS rampage, according to the report.

Salbi holds a degree in sharia law from the University of Mosul. In 2004 he was detained by US forces in Camp Bucca prison in southern Iraq where he met Baghdadi. He is believed to have at least one son.

Before Baghdadi’s death in a US military raid in northwest Syria on October 27, the US state department put a $5 million bounty on Salbi’s head and on two other senior members of the group. Salbi was touted as a potential replacement for the ailing Baghdadi in August but confirmation of his appointment took several months to secure.

Following Baghdadi’s elimination, US President Donald Trump made clear that the United States knows exactly who the new leader of ISIS is. He later said that the new leader of ISIS is being pursued by the US just as Baghdadi.