Baghdad, May 2: From a teacher in Physics to the head of the dreaded ISIS- This is how one could summarise the journey of Abu Alaa al-Afri. He is currently in charge of the outfit after Abu Bakar-Al-Baghdadi is said to have sustained spinal injuries in an air strike led by the US. [ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi hit by spinal injury, says reports]
It is not easy replacing Baghdadi and it appears for now that this is only a stop gap arrangement. For starters Afri has not been appointed by the Shura council of the ISIS which is the decision making body.
It was the Shura council that went ahead and appointed Baghdadi in the first place for the following credentials they believed he had- Religious credentials, the alleged descent from Prophet Mohammad and the strong tribal connections.
A stop gap arrangement:
There is normally a transition gap when any outfit appoints a new leader. However in the case of the ISIS, the outfit appeared to be clear in its agenda and much before the so called injury of Baghdadi, they had a second in line command ready.
Afiri is a preacher and is also well versed in war fare. He made a humble start as a physics teacher and went on to become one of Baghdadi's closest aides. Hence he was the natural choice of successor.
However many experts would argue that the succession is not as easy at it may seem. Replacing Baghdadi is not easy and the ISIS would be extremely slow before it makes the announcement entirely public.
After all the entire bandwagon of fighters are attracted to the Baghdadi personality and any sudden replacement may prove to be fatal for the ISIS. However this appears to be a stop gap arrangement and the ISIS would be wishing that their leader Baghdadi gets well soon (provided he is really injured).
The rise of Afri:
Al-Afri is considered to be a charismatic leader. His name would mean the ‘Face of the earth.' He is not just a preacher, but also a fighter and is well known to all the militants both in Iraq and Syria.
In fact he has been groomed since the past two years which would only indicate that the ISIS wanted no vacuum in case something were to happen to Baghdadi.
Today Afri is already on the battle field. The ISIS says he has already started leading the Daesh (ISIS in Arabic). Warfare is not new to Afiri and he has actively commanded the ISIS warriors on several occasions both in Iraq and Syria.
ISIS vows revenge:
The ISIS was quick to confirm that their leader Baghdadi had not died in an aerial strike. However there is confirmation that he has been injured.
The ISIS has sworn revenge for this attack on their leader. In fact the speeches that the commanders of the ISIS are giving clearly indicates that they are planning something on a very major scale.
Whether Baghdadi is really injured or not has not been entirely confirmed. An injury to their supreme commander tends to dish out sympathy among the fighters who may fight with a new resolve.
After all the battle for the ISIS is getting harder. They expected to move into Yemen and carry forward the battle there. However the aggression shown by the US in Iraq and Syria has put them slightly on the back foot.
In such a scenario, the news of an injury to their commander could work wonders for them and instill a new sense of resolve among the fighters. After all the ISIS fighters firmly believe that Baghdadi is a decedent of Mohammad.