ISIS chief Baghdadi incapacitated from critical spinal injury
In a previous report The Guardian had detailed that the "caliph" was injured so badly he could barely move.
He was reportedly wounded in an air strike by the US-led coalition in March.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who last year declared himself caliph, is reportedly now being treated by two doctors who support ISIS.
Several sources told Chulov that Baghdadi's injuries are so serious that he might not ever be able to lead ISIS again.
A former physics teacher from Mosul, Abu Alaa Afri, was installed as ISIS temporary leader after Baghdadi was injured, an Iraqi government adviser told Newsweek.
One ISIS source told Chulov that the group is "planning to fight back against Europe" because "they want to take revenge for Baghdadi."
Two officials, one western and one Iraqi, previously confirmed to The Guardian that the air strike in question targeted multiple cars in the town of Baaj in northwestern Iraq on March 18, but the Pentagon said the air strike was not aimed at a high-value target and that it had "no reason to believe it was Baghdadi."
Chulov reports that officials didn't know that Baghdadi was in one of the cars targeted in the air strike. He was reportedly staying in that area of Iraq because he "knew from the war that the Americans did not have much cover there," a source who is aware of Baghdadi's movements told The Guardian.
Newsweek describes Afri as a "rising star" within ISIS, and the Iraqi government adviser, Hisham al Hashimi, said Afri had become even more important than Baghdadi.
Afri will assume full leadership of ISIS if Baghdadi dies, Hashimi said.
Having a caliph with a background of religious education is important to ISIS, which has shaped its self-proclaimed caliphate around a strict interpretation of sharia law. The group recruits people to live in its territory by marketing it as an Islamic utopia.
Der Spiegel reported recently that early leaders of ISIS, many of whom are former Iraqi intelligence officers from the regime of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein, decided to make Baghdadi caliph because he, as an "educated cleric," would "give the group a religious face."
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