Who will succeed Baghdadi as ISIS leader?

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With reports of the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi a tussle seems to have begun among ISIS leaders to fill the position left vacant by him.

According to the Deputy Governor in charge of ISIS in Hawija, Abu Haitham al-Obeidi, declared himself as successor. He withdrew with dozens of supporters to the western side of the province in preparation for the battle with his opponents within the organization.

Baghdadi monopoly

The position of the Caliph is a symbolic role. As a religious and political leader, he has the right of obedience after being chosen by the Shoura Council as was the case with Omar al-Baghdadi (Hamid Dawood al-Zawawi) and then Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Also, Zarqawi formed the Mujahideen Shoura Council and appointed Abu Abdul Rahman al-Baghdadi as its president.

A combo of two handout pictures released by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security (L) and by Iraqi Ministry of Interior shows photographs of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. (AFP)
A combo of two handout pictures released by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security (L) and by Iraqi Ministry of Interior shows photographs of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. (AFP)

The marginalization and insignificance of the role of Caliph and his successor is manifested in the appointment of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who according to dissident elements, are described as “random” and not asked to lead for legal competence or combat experience.


According to Abu Suleiman al-Otaibi, an ISIS judge in Iraq, the efficiency of the so-called “Commander of the Faithful;” Abu Omar al-Baghdadi does not know what is going on around him, and doesn’t object to anything at all.”

Al-Otaibi added that Abu Bakr was not known to the majority of leaders. Because of poor communication, everyone was confused about who chose him as the leader. As for the ethnic and tribal ties to Quraysh, assigning Ibrahim Awad al-Badri was considered a trick by members of the organization's Consultative Council to legitimize the position of the Caliph.

THUMBNAIL_ البغدادي بلا قيادات بعد مقتل أغلبهم
THUMBNAIL_ البغدادي بلا قيادات بعد مقتل أغلبهم

Not from the Prophet’s family or the Baghdadis

According to a research concudted by an ISIS militant Abu Ahmed, Baghdadi belongs to the tribe of Albu Badri and was born in Samarra. He said: “Albu Badri and the Badriins are not from the family or related to the prophet’s family, popular known as “Al al-bait”.

“Al-Baghdadi did not receive a doctorate in the science of Tajweed as it is claimed,” said the Khorasan fighter. “The leader of ISIS wasn’t a doctor of Sharia or a Baghdadi nor a Qurashi nor a descendant of Al Hassan or Al Hussein. The link to Quraysh is a “ciché attributed to him and it is a lie,” he said.

The leader of the organization is a postman

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was a mere “post office”. It was as if fighters would come and throw bulk of mail in the yard of his house and then another fighter comes and takes the mail from him.

Radical groups have also played down the importance of the position of the Caliph. According to Abu Duaa al-Samarrai, Baghdadi was only a symbol and the weakest link in the organization.

“The killing of al-Baghdadi will not affect the approach and the strength of the organization. Any Iraqi figure can be assigned and attributed to Quraysh, and at the moment there are no specific names for whoever will succeed.”

A trick to assign Baghdadi

The appointment of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi came after Abu Hamza al-Muhajir took command of the organization, which sought to establish an umbrella for the various fighting factions in Iraq and forced those who objected to the project to accept Abu Omar al-Baghdadi. As a result, al-Qaeda and other dissidents branched out from it.

After Abu Omar al-Baghdadi was killed on April 19, 2010 along with his war minister, Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, the ISIS of Iraq unit replaced its leaders. Haji Bakr resorted to a malicious trick as he contacted each official separately to appoint Abu Duaa Samarrai as Amir instead of Abu Omar Baghdadi.

Most peoplpe around him agreed without really knowing “the postman,” thinking that he is experienced and has a significant past. He was also an old comrade of Zarqawi and a “Qureshi Husseini Baghdadi,” so most of the princes accepted him as their leader before they themselves got toppled.

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