Intelligence officials: New ISIS leader is one of its founding members




Intelligence officials: New ISIS leader is one of its founding members
Intelligence officials: New ISIS leader is one of its founding members  

The Islamic State's new leader is Amir Mohammed Abdul Rahman al-Mawli al-Salbi, one of the terrorist organization's founding members, intelligence officials told The Guardian.

Last October, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a raid in Syria, and officials said Salbi replaced him just hours after his death. Born to an Iraqi Turkmen family, Salbi has a background as an Islamic scholar, and came up with the ISIS religious rulings authorizing the enslavement of Iraq's Yazidi minority. Salbi met Baghdadi in 2004, when both were detained by U.S. forces at Camp Bucca in Iraq.

There aren't many founding members of ISIS left, and the group doesn't have nearly as many fighters as it did during its peak in the mid-2010s. ISIS no longer controls vast swaths of Iraq and Syria, but they are still behind assassinations and roadside bombings in northern Iraq, a senior Kurdish official told The Guardian. There are rural networks that "remain very much intact," the official said. "After all, ISIS members in Iraq still receive monthly salaries and training in remote mountainous areas. That network allows the organization to endure, even when militarily defeated."

Salbi's whereabouts are unknown, but intelligence officials believe it's likely he is near Mosul, Iraq. There is a $5 million bounty on his head.

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