US President Donald Trump in October 2019 announced that former ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been killed as a result of a US military operation. Iraqi intelligence announced on Wednesday that an alleged successor to ex-ISIS leader al-Baghdadi had been arrested, according to a report by Ashaq al Awsat.
According to the INA news agency, Iraqi intelligence detained Abdullah Quardash, a possible successor to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
“Today, the National Intelligence Service announced the arrest of the candidate to succeed the terrorist Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi”, INA news agency reported, citing security sources.
— Asharq Al-Awsat English (@aawsat_eng) May 20, 2020
On 21 May 2020, the Iraqi National Intelligence Services further elaborated that Qardash was in charge of manufacturing chemical warfare agents to attack Iraqi troops. It said: “Qardash was responsible for the production and development of mustard gas, which was used for attacking Iraqi forces across the country. He plays a prominent role in the negotiation process between the group [ISIL] and its factions, as well as with other terrorist movements”.
According to earlier media reports, ‘Abdullah Qardash’ is an alias for one of the group’s founding members, Amir Mohammed Abdul Rahman al-Mawli al-Salbi, who was appointed as al-Baghdadi’s successor hours after the latter’s death.
Before al-Baghdadi’s killing, there were allegations that the US State Department considered al-Salbi to be his potential successor, and quickly offered a $5 million reward for his capture.
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He was also nicknamed “The Professor” and “Destroyer”. “The Professor”, because he graduated in Islamic Studies in Mosul, whereas the nickname “The Destroyer” comes from his reputation as a ruthless persecutor.
Qardash was a Major General within the army of Saddam Hussein. Qardash was jailed in 2003–2004 by the US authorities with al-Baghdadi in Camp Bucca, a detention facility in Basra, following the invasion of Iraq and the ouster of Saddam Hussein’s regime.
Interestingly, a US intelligence agent who provided false reports about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction and former Iraqi intelligence chief Mustafa al-Kadhimi has been installed as the prime minister of Iraq as a result of a secret US Iran deal.
The deal was that Iranians would back Kadhimi and in return US would unfreeze Iran’s assets targeted by US sanctions. The US’s withdrawal of Patriot missiles from Saudi Arabia last week was also part of the secret US Iran deal.