The new leader of ISIS is former physics teacher Abu Alaa al-Afri, who has been in charge since the wounding of the group’s figurehead Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a coalition air strike in March (2015).
The claim was made by Iraqi government advisor Dr Hisham al Hashimi, speaking to Newsweek.
Hashimi said al-Afri [meaning ‘face of the earth’] is a charismatic figure who is well-known by the militants, and ready to assume permanent command if self-appointed Caliph al-Baghdadi dies.
“After al-Baghdadi’s wounding, he [al-Afri] has begun to head up ISIS with the help of officials responsible for other portfolios,” said Hashimi. “He will be the leader of ISIS if al-Baghdadi dies.”
Al-Baghdadi, whose broadcast from Mosul mosque in 2014 made him a target for the US-led coalition, is said to be unable to move following an air strike which hit his convoy on 18 March. The information was obtained by The Guardian from an Iraqic source with links to ISIS. The group feared Baghdadi would die and were forced to choose a leader to replace him.