Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi
Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi (born October 1 or 5, 1976) Is the second and current caliph of the The Islamic State. His appointment was made by a council of the terror group's shura, and his name was announced by the media on October 31, 2019, just a week after Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's death, in the Allied offensive launched on Barisha, in Syria.
Al-Hashimi was born on either 1 or 5 October 1976 as Amir Mohammed Abdul Rahman al-Mawli al-Salbi in Tel Afar, Iraq. He was born into an Iraqi Turkmen family, and educated in Sharia law at the University of Mosul. After graduating, he served as an army officer in Ba'athist Iraq.
After the end of Saddam Hussein's rule following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, he joined Al-Qaeda and served as a religious commissary and a general Sharia jurist. In 2004, he was detained by US forces in Camp Bucca prison in southern Iraq where he met Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He presumably re-joined Al-Qaeda after being released from prison at an unknown time.
In 2014, al-Hashimi officially left al-Qaeda, reaffirming his loyalty to ISIL (which had previously operated as al-Qaeda's Iraqi branch). He played a key part in ISIL's capture of Mosul in June 2014. He was one of the main ISIL leaders who orchestrated the genocidal mass killings of Yazidis during the Sinjar massacre in August of that year. By this point, he had risen to deputy of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
According to ISIL, al-Hashimi is a veteran in fighting against Western nations, being a religiously educated and experienced commander. He was described as "the scholar, the worker, the worshiper", a "prominent figure in jihad", and an "emir of war".
Less than a week after the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, al-Hashimi was elected by a shura council as the new caliph of ISIL, indicating that the group still considers itself a caliphate despite having lost all of its territory in Iraq and Syria. Al-Hashimi's appointment was supposedly done in accordance with the advice of Baghdadi, meaning the new emir was named as a successor by Baghdadi himself. Further evidence that al-Hashimi may have been appointed as successor by Baghdadi may be inferred from the relatively quick succession of Baghdadi. Al-Hashimi's coming to power followed several days of speculation and denial surrounding Baghdadi's death among ISIL supporters.
The general expectation was that al-Hashimi would become "the leader of a frayed organisation that has been reduced to scattered sleeper cells" and the ruler of a "caliphate of ashes". Some analysts believed that Baghdadi's death would likely cause ISIL to splinter, "leaving whoever emerges as its new leader with the task of pulling the group back together as a fighting force". However, other analysts believed that Baghdadi's death would not have much of an impact on ISIL "in terms of operational capacity" and that it was likely "not to result in the group’s demise, or really even bring about a decline".
On 2–3 November, al-Hashimi's caliphacy was criticized as illegitimate by the al-Wafa’ Media Agency, an online media outlet previously aligned with ISIL before turning against it in March 2019. It was argued that "the Prophet decreed obedience to leaders who exist and who are known … not obedience to a nonentity or an unknown". Further, it was argued that the council which elected al-Hashimi did not qualify as legitimate since it lacked three qualifications for the caliph's electors: justice, knowledge, and wisdom – which the council lacked, since it had sent Baghdadi to Idlib, which had earlier been deemed by them a "land of unbelief", when he "would have been much safer hiding in the desert". Further disqualifying the council was the fact that the council had "shed innocent Muslim blood and embraced extremism in the practice of excommunication" (takfir). As a final note, the al-Wafa’ Media Agency stated that nothing was left for a would-be caliph to preside over – “You do not recognize that God has destroyed your state on account of your oppression.”
In 2019, al-Hashimi received pledges of allegiance from ISIL's Sinai province and Bangladeshi affiliates (2 November), Somali province (3 November), Pakistani province and Yemen province (4 November), Hauran province and Khorasan Province (5 November), Tunisia province (6 November), West Africa province, Levant Province – Homs, Levant Province – al-Khayr, Levant Province – Raqqa, East Asia Province and Central Africa Province (7 November), West Asia Province (8 November), West Africa Province – Mali and Burkina Faso and Levant Province - al-Barakah (9 November), Levant Province – Halab (12 November), Iraq Province – Baghdad (14 November), Libya Province (15 November), Iraq Province – Dijlah (16 November), Iraq Province – Diyala (17 November), Iraq Province – Salah al-Din (18 November), Iraq Province – Kirkuk (19 November), East Asia Province – Indonesia (22 November), Azerbaijani affiliates (29 November), and in 2020 from ISIL's Malian affiliates (31 January). These pledges of allegiance appeared to be intended to illustrate the legitimacy and unanimous acceptance of al-Hashimi, to counter criticism that he was unknown and illegitimate.
Following an attack on the Tajikistan–Uzbekistan border that killed 17 people on 7 November, the attackers declared allegiance to al-Hashimi prior to the attack, according to journalist Rukmini Callimachi.
On 23 December 2019, the Voice of America commented that al-Hashimi had "not provided visible leadership". In contrast, the United Nations Security Council judged in January 2020 that ISIL had undergone a resurgence in Iraq and Syria. Though these successes were partially attributed to al-Qurashi's leadership, he still remained a shadowy figure. The UN Security Council suggested that ISIL feared that al-Hashimi lacked some credentials that were usually necessary for a caliph, and kept him out of the spotlight as to not endanger his position.
On 24 March 2020, the United States Department of State designated al-Hashimi as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under Executive Order 13224.
On 20 May 2020, Iraqi Intelligence Agency identified a captured militant as al-Hashimi; however, the military clarified that this was actually Abdullah Qardash, a potential successor to al-Baghdadi. Al-Hashimi, the leader of ISIL, was still outside Iraqi custody at the time.