The Islamic State on Thursday confirmed the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a US raid in northern Syria. The terror organisation has named Abu Ibrahim al-Quraishi as its new leader and successor to Baghdadi. In a voice message on Telegram, ISIS also confirmed the death of its spokesperson Abu Hasan Al Mohager.
"Do not rejoice, America, in killing Sheikh al-Baghdadi," a spokesman said on the recording. "Do you not realise that the [Islamic] State stands today at the doorsteps of Europe and Central Africa? Nay; it is expanding and persisting."
"Your destiny is controlled by a stupid elder who changes his mind overnight," the message further said, without mentioning much about the circumstances of Baghdadi's death.
Baghdadi became one of the world's most-wanted terrorist leaders when he proclaimed the Islamic State terror organisation's so-called caliphate from a pulpit of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in the Iraqi city of Mosul in 2014. At that time, IS had conquered half of Syria and around a third of Iraq. It had under its control not only the historic city of Mosul, where it filled a power vacuum left by an Iraqi army in retreat, but also Raqqa across the border in Syria.
Five years later, the so-called caliphate all but collapsed when US-backed Kurdish militias seized its last outpost in southeast Syria in March. Baghdadi was a ruthless leader who oversaw the murder of thousands of civilians. He was erroneously reported dead on several previous occasions.
The elusive Baghdadi was killed by the US forces, who along with its specialised military dogs, chased him through a dark underground tunnel in northern Syria. The US-led special forces raided his compound in Idlib province. Baghdadi spent his final moments "crying, whimpering and screaming". He ignited his vest, killing himself and three children.
(With IANS inputs)