ISIS successor still at large, over two dozen defeat-ISIS operations: Pentagon
Following news that ISIS’ Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s successor was arrested by Iraqi intelligence according to local media outlets, the Pentagon has said the man who is believed to be the new head of the terrorist organization is still at large.
On Wednesday, Al Arabiya reported that Abdulnasser al-Qirdash, a senior ISIS leader was arrested and that Iraqi intelligence had believed him to be the favored candidate to succeed al-Baghdadi who died in October 2019.
But the man believed to be the new head of ISIS is called Abdullah Qirdash.
“Baghdadi’s successor, ‘Abdullah Qardash,’ was not arrested. He is still at large,” Cmdr. Sean Robertson, a Pentagon spokesperson told Al Arabiya.
“The ISIS leader making headlines in Iraq, Abdulnasser Qardash, was captured in Baghouz (Syria) by SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) in March 2019 and was recently transferred to Iraqi custody, not newly captured by Iraqi forces,” Robertson said in an email.
Abdulnasser Qardash was a senior leader within ISIS, he said in an exclusive interview with Al Arabiya.
“I was the deputy governor in the north with Abu Musab al-Quraishi. So they summoned me, Abu Musab was to become the emir of the Iraq committee, and I return to become the emir of the north,” he said.
Abdulnasser said he and others met with al-Baghdadi to review the new leadership positions, but he was asked to do things which, he refused to do so he “was isolated from the whole affair.”
“Even my position as deputy governor of the north I was isolated from it,” he said.
There was some confusion regarding the news of the arrest as several Iraqi media outlets reported the Iraqi National Intelligence Service’s arrest of Abdulnasser al-Qirdash and identifying him as a favored candidate to succeed ISIS leader al-Baghdadi.
At the time of arrest, the NISS released a statement of Abdulnasser al-Qirdash’s capture and arrest without clarifying that they had custody of the ISIS senior leader from their Syrian counterparts.
“The Iraqi Security Forces continue to gain information from captured ISIS operatives and have conducted more than two dozen defeat-ISIS operations in the past week,” the Pentagon spokesperson said.
Ismaeel Naar contributed to this report.