Caliph Incognito: The Ridicule of Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi

The last week of October 2019 was an eventful one in the history of the Islamic State. On October 26, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, its leader and caliph, blew himself up during a U.S. special forces raid on his compound in Idlib Province, Syria. The next day, official spokesman Abu al-Hasan al-Muhajir, a potential successor to al-Baghdadi, was killed in a U.S. airstrike in nearby Aleppo Province. On October 31, the Islamic State confirmed the fatalities in an audio statement read by al-Muhajir’s replacement, Abu Hamza al-Qurashi, who went on to announce the appointment of a certain Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi as the new “commander of the believers and caliph of the Muslims.” The adjective Qurashi in their names denotes descent from the Prophet Muhammad’s tribe of Quraysh, one of the traditional qualifications of being caliph. In his statement, Abu Hamza called on all Muslims to proffer the bay‘a, the traditional

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How Did the Islamic State Pick Its New Leader?

The world’s most wanted man, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, may be dead at the paws of Conan the Hero Dog, but the ISIS crisis isn’t over. Just three days after the killing of the so-called Islamic State’s leader, the group issued a statement announcing the name of his successor as Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Qurashi. Like his predecessor, he assumed the title of caliph, or successor to the Prophet Mohammed. In other words, he sees himself as the legitimate ruler of all Muslims—a claim that most of the world’s 1.8 billion Islamic faithful will find either deeply offensive or hilariously corny, but that the Islamic State cult’s own members are deathly serious bout. (An unofficial English translation has been posted online by Aymenn al-Tamimi, a British-Iraqi expert on the Islamic State.) So who is the new guy? The short answer is: we don’t know. Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Qurashi is a nom de

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