The new leader of Islamic State has been confirmed as Amir Mohammed Abdul Rahman al-Mawli al-Salbi, according to officials from two intelligence services. He is one of the terror group’s founding members and has led the enslavement of Iraq’s Yazidi minority and has overseen operations around the globe.
The Guardian has learned that Salbi was named leader hours after the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in October. The name that the group gave for Baghdadi’s replacement at the time, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi, was a nom de guerre not recognised by other senior leaders or intelligence agencies.
In the three months since the raid that killed Baghdadi, a fuller picture of Salbi has been pieced together by regional and western spies, placing him at the center of ISIS decision-making – and that of its forerunners – and portraying him as a hardened veteran in the same vein as Baghdadi, unflinching in his loyalty to the extremist group.