WASHINGTON – The United States is looking into the new leader of the Islamic State to determine his role in the organization and where he came from after a U.S. raid last month killed its former leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Nathan Sales, the U.S. counterterrorism coordinator, said on Friday.
“Any time there is a leadership transition in the terrorist organization, we want to make sure that we have the latest information that we need to have to confront the threat,” Sales told a briefing.
Islamic State in an audio tape posted online on Thursday, confirmed that its leader al-Baghdadi was killed in a weekend raid by U.S. special forces in northwestern Syria, and vowed revenge against the United States.
The group, also known as ISIS, said a successor to al-Baghdadi identified as Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Quraishi had been appointed.
Earlier on Friday, Trump tweeted about the new leader. “ISIS has a new leader. We know exactly who he is!” he tweeted, without elaborating further.
Al-Baghdadi had risen from obscurity to lead the ultrahard-line group and declare himself “caliph” of all Muslims, holding sway over huge areas of Iraq and Syria from 2014-2017 before Islamic State’s control was wrested away by U.S.-led coalition forces including Iraqis and Syrian Kurds.