The Islamic State has a new leader, albeit temporarily.
After a March 18 bombing attack which seriously wounded Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, reports reveal that Abu Alaa Afri, a former physics teacher from Mosul and a favourite of the deceased Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, has taken over temporary command of the dreaded group while al-Baghdadi is recuperating.
Dr Hisham al Hashimi, an Iraqi government adviser, said that Abu Alaa Afri, “the self-proclaimed caliph’s deputy”, has been made the temporary leader.
“After al-Baghdadi’s wounding, he [al-Afri] has begun to head up Daesh [the Arabic term for IS] with the help of officials responsible for other portfolios,” Hashimi was quoted as saying. “He will be the leader of Daesh if al-Baghdadi dies.”
Termed a “rising star” in IS by Hashimi, Afri is said to be “more important, and smarter, and with better relationships,” than Baghdadi. “He is a good public speaker with strong charisma,” Hashimi told Newsweek. “All the leaders of Daesh (IS) find that he has much jihadi wisdom, and good capability at leadership and administration.”
Afri also favours allowing more volunteer foreign fighters into the leadership of IS, and is considered “very strict” when it comes to enforcing Sharia, or Islamic law, Business Insider reports.
However, Pentagon spokesman Army Col Steven Warren was quoted as saying, “we have no reason to believe it was Baghdadi” who was wounded in the attack.