Official says US knows little of Baghdadi successor
The U.S. knows "almost nothing" about the man who has succeeded Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to lead the ISIL terrorist organization, a senior State Department official said on Nov. 6.
The official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity, said the individual "appears to be a nobody" after ISIL named Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi as its new leader. The name is a nom de guerre, or kunya.
U.S. President Donald Trump said after Baghdadi's Oct. 26 killing by U.S. forces in northern Syria that Washington knows "exactly who he is!"
The president did not provide any identifying information, however, and the official who spoke to reporters said "nobody knows his background."
"We think we know a bit about him, but not enough for me to even tell you on background, but what little we know about him, we're not impressed," the official said.
"The other thing is if he's in Iraq or Syria, we don't think he's too long for the world anyway," the official added.
Under Baghdadi, ISIL spread over wide segments of Iraq and Syria beginning in 2013, eventually claiming the formation of a "caliphate" in the region as it plotted and carried out gruesome attacks that reached far beyond its main territorial bastion. It further set up local affiliates in other regions as it released heinous execution videos on to the internet.
Baghdadi had been a top target for both the Trump and Obama administrations, and had a $25 million bounty placed on his head.
As the U.S.-led coalition took back territories once under the terror group's hold, Baghdadi increasingly stayed in the shadows, only rarely releasing pre-recorded audio messages to his followers.