What If Baghdadi Is Incapacitated?

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A recent Guardian report states that the head of the Islamic State (IS), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was seriously injured in an air strike by the US-led coalition in Iraq. A more detailed report from Newsweek suggests that Baghdadi has been incapacitated—at least temporarily—and is currently unable to lead IS. An Iraqi expert on IS says that a new leader, Abu ‘Ala al-‘Afri, who trained in Afghanistan and who seems to be open to working with al-Qaeda (AQ), has taken over the day-to-day running of the group.

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Baghdadi vs. Omar: The Islamic State Hints at Fight with the Taliban

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Jihadists and jihadist supporters not aligned with the Islamic State (IS) condemned a recent speech by IS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-'Adnani, released on January 26, as further dividing the global jihadist movement. Along with a renewed call for lone-wolf attacks, the speech, entitled, "Say, 'Die in Your Rage!'," touted the recent pledges of various group leaders from Khorasan, the Afghanistan/Pakistan region:

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IS Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Rallies Fighters, Condemns US-Led Coalition in New Speech

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The Islamic State (IS) released a new audio speech from its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in which he rallied his forces, condemned coalition intervention in Syria, and called for further recruitment of fighters.

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A Biography of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

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In light of the Islamic State's (IS) advances in Iraq and Syria, many have asked about the group's shadowy leader and self-proclaimed Caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In July 2013, users on jihadist discussion forums distributed what turned out to be a largely accurate biography of al-Baghdadi (AKA Abu Du'a, Ibrahim bin Awwad bin Ibrahim al-Badri al-Radhwi al-Husseini al-Samarrai) that may help to reveal more about such a powerful and infamous leader the world knows so little about. The unidentified author told of Baghdadi being an active jihadist for at least eight years in Iraq and having served in the Shariah Committees of both Jeish Ahl al-Sunnah wal Jama'a, a group he founded, and the Mujahideen Shura Council (MSC), IS's predecessor.

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Is al-Qaeda Finally Responding to the Caliphate?

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As I noted in a post last week, al-Qaeda’s failure to respond to the declaration of the Caliphate by the Islamic State (IS)—formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS)—has been rather puzzling.  Given the seriousness of the dispute between the two organizations and the challenge that the new state poses to al-Qaeda’s dominance of the global jihad, it would seem incumbent upon the more established group to answer the declaration in some convincing way. This week, at long last, al-Qaeda has issued a short newsletter that contains at least the beginning of a response to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s announcement.It also allows us to see that al-Qaeda might have been setting up this response over the past few weeks.

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