Baghdad, May 21 (efe-epa).- An important Islamic State (IS) leader identified as Abdel Nasser Qardash, thought to be a possible candidate to succeed the terror group’s late leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has been detained in Iraq, the country’s intelligence services announced early Thursday.
In a statement, the Iraqi Security Information Cell confirmed the arrest of Al-Makani Haji Abdel Nasser Qardash, who it said had a major role in the Battle of Baghuz in March 2019, in which the IS lost its last remaining stronghold in Syria.
The Iraqi forces said the radical was responsible for the manufacture and development of mustard gas for use inside Iraq, that Baghdadi made him the emir of manufacturing and development, and that he was sent to Syria to manufacture weapons, explosives and equipment.
At various points he was also a governor, was involved in attacks on Kobane, Palmyra, Aleppo and Damascus, and was the supervisor of all administrative boards and the organization’s manufacturing and processing sections, the statement added.
The statement highlighted the commitment of the Iraqi National Intelligence Service to pursue members of these terrorist groups and “hunt them one by one and bring them to justice.”
The news of the arrest was reported by the Al Iraqiya newspaper and the INA news agency, which said Qardash was a candidate to be the new caliph after the death of Baghdadi last October in a US operation in the north of Syria.
After Baghdadi’s death, the IS announced the appointment of Abu Ibrahim al-Qurashi as the new “emir of believers and caliph of jihadists.”
Qurashi has never appeared in a voice or video recordings broadcast through the IS propaganda media as Baghdadi did, and his appearance and location have remained secret.
Western intelligence services have doubts about the authenticity of his name since it does not match that of any known senior commander under Baghdadi.
Abdullah Qardash is one of the names attributed to the new IS leader in Iraq, where the extremist group has stepped up its operations in the past few weeks, coinciding with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The Iraqi security forces and intelligence have had information for weeks of the presence of this leader in Iraq and have tracked his location, sources from the Joint Operations Command of the Iraqi Forces told EFE in early May. EFE-EPA