ISIS Confirms Death of al-Baghdadi, Names New Successor

October 31, 2019 Updated: October 31, 2019

ISIS confirmed the death of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Thursday, naming the dead terrorist’s successor.

The terror group, which was decimated in recent years by U.S. and allied forces, released an audio statement through its media arm eulogizing al-Baghdadi and praising him for his “military conquests.”

Also killed by the United States was Abu Hassan al-Muhajir, a close aide of al-Baghdadi and a spokesman for the group since 2016, ISIS confirmed.

The new spokesman, named Abu Hamza al-Qurayshi, urged followers to pledge allegiance to the new “caliph” and addressed the Americans, saying, “Don’t rejoice.”

He said the new leader is Abu Ibrahim Hashimi al-Quraishi. Experts weren’t immediately clear who the new leader was.

“The Shura Council met immediately after confirming the martyrdom of Sheik Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The leaders of the Mujahedeen agreed after consultation with their brethren and acting according to the will (of al-Baghdadi) they pledged allegiance to Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi as the new leader of the Believers,” the new spokesman said.

compound of ISIS leader al-Baghdadi
The compound of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is seen moments before an air strike in the Idlib region of Syria from video taken on Oct. 26, 2019. (U.S. Department of Defense/Reuters)

“So don’t rejoice America for the death of Sheik al-Baghdadi. Don’t you know America that the state (ISIS) today is at the doorstep of Europe and is in Central Africa? It is also expanding and remaining from east to west,” he added.

The group’s confirmation of the two dead terrorists came after the U.S. Department of Defense released a video of the raid that killed al-Baghdadi.

Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the head of the U.S. Central Command, told reporters the raid in northern Syria happened after briefing President Donald Trump and other military leaders.

Military analysts believe al-Baghdadi was in Idlib province to hide.

“We assess that he was hiding in Idlib province to avoid the intense pressure that had been put on ISIS in other areas of Syria,” the general said.

Helicopters transported American special forces to the remote compound and provided support as the troops surrounded the compound and urged those inside to surrender.

Trump makes a statement
President Donald Trump makes a statement in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House on Oct. 27, 2019. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

“Those who came out of the building were checked for weapons and explosives and moved away,” McKenzie said. “U.S. forces detained and later released the noncombatants. The group was treated humanely at all times, and included 11 children.”

Five ISIS members, four women and one man, didn’t respond to commands in Arabic to surrender and were killed.

U.S. forces later located al-Baghdadi in a tunnel. As they approached, he detonated a suicide vest, killing himself and two children.

DNA tests verified his identity and he was buried at sea.

Trump said on Sunday that the ISIS leader “died after running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering and crying and screaming all the way.”

“He reached the end of the tunnel, as our dogs chased him down. He ignited his vest, killing himself and the three children. His body was mutilated by the blast. The tunnel had caved in on it, in addition,” he said.

“But test results gave certain immediate and totally positive identification. It was him. The thug who tried so hard to intimidate others spent his last moments in utter fear, in total panic and dread, terrified of the American forces bearing down on him.”

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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