New ISIS leader al Afri.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Abed al-Rachman Mustapha, also known as Abu Alaa al-Afri, has been appointed the new leader of ISIS following an emergency meeting convened by the organization's first leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, immediately after he was seriously wounded in an American air-raid that struck the organization's stronghold located in the northwest of Iraq.
Dr Hisham al Hashimi, adviser to the Iraqi prime minister on matters concerning the Islamic State, said that "Afri is the most powerful man in the organization after al-Baghdadi himself." He continued by saying that al-Afri is "more important, and smarter, and with better relationships. He is a good public speaker and strong charisma."
"All the leaders of (ISIS) find that he has much jihadi wisdom, and good capability at leadership and administration," he added.
According to al Hashimi, al Afri was a former physics teacher professor who was born in the city of al-Khidr, an estimated 80 kilometers south of Mosul, and helped establish what would later become the Islamic State while serving as a senior commander within al-Qaida in Iraq.
Not much is known about the the new ISIS leader. According to a report published by the British newspaper The Guardian, he allegedly traveled to Afghanistan in 1998 before making a meteoric rise to the position of senior commander of al-Qaida in Iraq. There he allied himself to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, head of the organization in 2004. After al-Zarqawi's assassination 2010, he took overall leadership responsibilities for Iraqi operations for the terrorist organization.
On Friday, The Guardian reported that the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was left incapacitated after suffering a sever spinal injury after American air raids bombed one of his hideouts last March - though the Pentagon would not acknowledge the raids.
According to The Guardian, al- Baghdadi is assisted by two doctors who accompany him at all times throughout the city of Mosul, a major stronghold for ISIS in Iraq and the country's second largest city.