A painted mural depicting the flag of the Islamic State. (Photo: Hawzhin Azeez)

Report: Islamic State’s New Leader Identified

The Britain-based Guardian newspaper reports that the new leader of Islamic State is Amir Mohammed Abdul Rahman al-Mawli al-Salbi, one of the terror group’s founders and, until now, largely responsible for justifying on religious grounds the persecution of minorities. According to the report, which cites unnamed sources from two intelligence services, Salbi was named ISIS’s new chief in the immediate aftermath of October’s killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a US military raid in northern Syria. At the time, however, ISIS was still referring to Salbi by his nom de guerre, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi, apparently to protect his identity. Salbi was reportedly born in Tal Afar, Iraq, and received a degree in Sharia Law from the University of Mosul. He met Baghdadi while imprisoned in 2004 at the US-run Camp Bucca detention facility in Iraq. He is believed to have issued the Islamic rulings that green-lighted the genocide of Yazidis in the northern part of the country. Prior to Baghdadi’s death, the US State Department announced a $5 million reward for information leading to the capture of Salbi, whose whereabouts remain unknown. Middle East leaders have over the past few weeks sounded the alarm bell on ISIS, claiming the group is reconstituting itself in both Iraq and Syria after a US-led coalition of some 70 countries retook all of the territory it held in the two countries as a self-styled caliphate.

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