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11/01/2019 Iraq (International Christian Concern) – Yesterday the Islamic State media released via Telegram a statement naming the successor of recently deceased leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The named successor is Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Qurashi, a name which is believed to be a nom de guerre. The name does however emphasize that the successor is a descendent of Mohammed, a move which some analysts believe signals that the so-called caliphate is more than the leadership of Baghdadi.

Baghdadi was killed by US forces in a raid this past Saturday. He is known as the mastermind of the birth of the Islamic State, including the genocidal policies ISIS adopted towards religious minorities. These policies brought much violence and bloodshed to Christians across the Middle East, but specifically in Iraq and Syria. Towards the end of his life, many believe that he was not heavily involved in the terrorists’ day to day operations. The man who emerged to take a more leadership role regarding militant activities was Abdullah Qardash, an Iraqi who is from a village nestled between Christian and Yazidi population centers. However, since he was not a descendent of Mohammed, it was never clear whether this role was hinting at successorship or stronger leadership.

Although a successor is now named, so much remains unclear about ISIS’ future. For the Christian victims, many believe it is only a matter of time before a new and perhaps worse version of ISIS again begins to target religious minorities. The true identity of the new successor could perhaps shed light on what the future might look like. But one thing is clear—ISIS remains dedicated to its ideology, a worldview which promotes significant violence towards religious minorities.

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