Post reports of Baghdadi's death, is ISIS leadership in jeopardy?

Is ISIS leadership in jeopardy?
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is no doubt a winning horse for the ISIS. He is in fact a poster boy of the outfit in whose name a large number of youth are lured into fighting alongside the ISIS. The fact is that Baghdadi has done what no other terrorist leader has done and that is declaring a caliphate and in the bargain declaring himself the Caliph.

Who will take over ISIS leadership?

Now with reports of his death or grievous injury doing the rounds, there is already talk of who will succeed him. It is not as though there is nobody to succeed him and Baghdadi would have thought of this entire process through before he even decided to wage such a bloody battle. Moreover the ISIS leadership would have seen what happened to the Al-Qaeda following the death of Osama Bin Laden and the main lesson they would have learnt is to ensure that the outfit is not one man centric.

Abu Ayman al-Iraqi, Baghdadi's closest aide would have been the natural sucesssor had he not been killed in an air strike. This would mean the next choice would be either Abu Ali al Anbari or Abu Muslim al-Turkmani his deputies in Syria and Iraq respectively.

ISIS strict about leadership qualities

Unlike the Al-Qaeda the ISIS is extremely particular that a leader dons certain skills before he is even considered for the job of the leader. It is not sufficient if the leader is good at his military skills. He needs to be religiously well versed since the ISIS does not just believe in appointing a leader but also making him the Caliph.

Even if Baghdadi were to be dead, his successor would not just be named but also declared the Caliph since this happens to be their trump card which has given them recogniton among the radicals world over.

At first the ISIS had decided on naming Omar al Shishani as the successor. Although he is the one who handles the foreign fighters and is well revered among them, his knowledge of the religion is extremely restricted. This would mean that he can be considered for the post of a military head, but not the over all head of the ISIS which requires knowledge of the religion.

Appointment of leader a strict process

The appointment process however is not a simple one. There is a Shura Council which takes a final call on such matters. The Shura Council comprises scholars and is considered to be the highest body which decides on the successor. This is the same council which decided that Baghdadi shall be declared as Caliph.

The council looks into the knowledge base of a leader before it takes a final call. Apart from being well versed with the religious laws, the leader ought to have command over the forces and possess military knowledge as well. Once the candidates are shortlisted the council would examine all these aspects at length before it declared the person as the leader and also calls him Caliph.

Is Baghdadi faking it?

According to the experts there is a good chance that the injury or death of Baghdadi could be faked in a bid to avoid the heat. There has been an attempt by his followers to spread the message that he is critically injured. However looking at the morale of the cadres it is clear that Baghdadi may just be faking it.

Had Baghdadi been killed in the attack, then it would have become amply clear that since the morale of his men would have been down. However they continue to fight with the same vigour which gives the indication that the reports of his death or injury may be fake.

For the ISIS it is very important that Baghdadi is alive since he not only is a factor in Iraq and Syria but a poster boy in the rest of the world too.

He has emerged as a hero among the radicals and just on his name fighters from across the world have been joining the ranks. Baghdadi has managed to do what even an Osama Bin Laden did not.

The declaration of the Caliphate was an ace move by him according to the experts. Through this move he went on to show that his fight was not just restricted carrying out run of the mill attacks, but establishing an Islamic State which many radicals have been saying for long is the need of the hour.

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