The head of the Islamic State is still incapacitated from a spinal injury, and the new leader of the terrorist group is intent on “fighting back” against Europe, according to a new report by Martin Chulov in The Guardian.
Kareem Shaheen at The Guardian had previously reported that the “caliph” was injured so badly he could barely move.
He was reportedly wounded in an airstrike by the US-led coalition in March.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who last year declared himself caliph of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL, and Daesh), is reportedly now being treated by two doctors who support ISIS.
Several sources told Chulov that Baghdadi’s injuries are so serious that he might never be able to lead ISIS again.
One ISIS source told Chulov that the group is “planning to fight back against Europe” because “they want to take revenge for Baghdadi.”
Two officials, one Western and one Iraqi, previously confirmed to The Guardian that the airstrike in question targeted multiple cars in the town of Baaj in northwestern Iraq on March 18, but the Pentagon said the airstrike was not aimed at a high-value target and that it had “no reason to believe it was Baghdadi.”
Chulov reports that officials didn’t know that Baghdadi was in one of the cars targeted in the airstrike. He was reportedly staying in that area of Iraq because he “knew from the war that the Americans did not have much cover there,” a source who is aware of Baghdadi’s movements told The Guardian.
US Department of Defense
Newsweek describes Afri as a “rising star” within ISIS, and the Iraqi government adviser, Hisham al Hashimi, said Afri had become even more important than Baghdadi.
Afri will assume full leadership of ISIS if Baghdadi dies, Hashimi said.
Having a caliph with a background of religious education is important to ISIS, which has shaped its self-proclaimed caliphate around a strict interpretation of sharia law. The group recruits people to live in its territory by marketing it as an Islamic utopia.
Der Spiegel reported recently that early leaders of ISIS, many of whom are former Iraqi intelligence officers from the regime of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein, decided to make Baghdadi a caliph because he, as an “educated cleric,” would “give the group a religious face.”