ISIS is plotting bloody attacks in the US and Europe to avenge the death of the terror group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, experts warned.
Terror experts have told how security services will be braced for the type of revenge plots that were seen after Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011.
Baghdadi was killed after US forces tracked him down to a hideout in northwest Syria[/caption]
Abdullah Qardash, a former officer in Saddam Hussein’s military, is reportedly the new leader of ISIS[/caption]
Fears are mounting that Baghdadi’s death during a US raid on his compound in Syria could trigger the resurgence of the terror group in what has been dubbed “ISIS 2.0”.
It’s believed that Abdullah Qardash, an ex-officer in Saddam Hussein’s army who is nicknamed “The Destroyer” or “The Professor”, has already assumed control of ISIS.
Qardash was reportedly appointed as Baghdadi’s successor in August, after the terror chief was wounded in an airstrike.
The new leader, who is known for his brutality and intelligence, may order a wave of new attacks to assert his authority and avenge Baghdadi, experts fear.
Richard Kemp, former head of international terrorism intelligence at the Cabinet Office, said: “When bin Laden was killed, al-Baghdadi unleashed violent retaliation.
“Security services will now be braced for attempts to avenge his death.”
A number of countries, including France, are believed to be on high alert following Baghdadi’s death at his lair in northwestern Syria.
French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner called for increased vigilance to prevent possible revenge attacks in a letter to police prefects seen by Reuters.
“The possible intensification of jihadist propaganda following this death, which could possibly call for acts of vengeance, requires the most extreme vigilance, notable during public events in your departments in coming days,” Castaner said.
Syria’s Kurdish forces believe ISIS sleeper cells will launch attacks in the coming weeks and months.
Mazloum Abdi, the top commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces – the de facto army of the Kurdish administration – told AFP: “Sleeper cells will seek revenge for Baghdadi’s death.
“This is why anything is possible, including attacks on prisons,” he said.
Baghdadi was killed when US forces swooped on his compound and he blew up self-up with a suicide vest after being cornered in a tunnel on Saturday.
Donald Trump said the terror chief died “crying, whimpering and screaming and bringing three kids with him”.
The president called it a “great night for the US and for the world” as they had brought the “world’s greater terrorist leader to justice”.
As US forces bore down on him, Trump said the ISIS chief fled into a tunnel with three of his children and detonated a suicide vest.
In a televised address to the nation from the White House, Trump said: “He reached the end of the tunnel as our dogs chased him down.
“He ignited his vest, killing himself and his three children. His body was mutilated by the blasts. The tunnel had caved on him.
“The thug who tried so hard to intimidate others spent his last moments in utter fear, in total panic and dread, terrified of the American forces bearing down on him.”
The president said: “He was a sick and depraved man, and now he’s gone.”
Trump said no US personnel were killed and 11 children were rescued in the operation.
One of the US forces’ dogs was seriously wounded in the operation.
Baghdadi’s spokesman Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir was also killed in a separate raid.
Both operations were carried out with the help of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
A regional intelligence official told Newsweek that Qardash would now have taken over as ISIS leader.
“Baghdadi was a figurehead. He was not involved in operations or day-to-day. All Baghdadi did was say yes or no—no planning,” said the official.
Qardash is a former officer in Saddam Hussein’s army who grew close to Baghdadi, 48, when they were both jailed in Basra by US forces for their links to al-Qaeda in 2003.
It was in the Iraqi prison that Baghdadi became a jihadist demagogue converting hundreds of prisoners to his sick vision of a so-called caliphate.
Qardash, whose age is unknown, is believed to have worked alongside him ever since, reports The Times.
The Iraqi worked as the death cult’s top legislator before his promotion to leader in waiting, it has been reported.
His nickname is the Professor and is known as a ruthless policymaker in the group.
Qardash was also a confidante of Abu Alaa al-Afri, Baghdadi’s previous deputy, who was killed in a US helicopter gun raid in 2016.
Since the fall of Baghuz, ISIS’s last urban stronghold in March, the group has been reduced to pockets of resistance across the two countries.
Qardash faces a divided leadership, some of whom may reject his vision and strategy, reports The Times.
With its members scattered in cells across a huge sweep of desert that spans two countries, three main factions have emerged, gathered around Tunisian, Saudi and Iraqi leadership.
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Security forces across the region have warned that the remaining cells are strong enough to launch attacks and are ready to step into any power vacuum.
Fadhel Abo Ragheef, former security analyst with the Iraqi government, said he believes that Qardash’s promotion could reinvigorate the sick death cult.
He said: “The attacks will not increase with Qardash’s new leadership but they will be more specific,”
“They have a lot of power over large lands, even though their funds have been reduced.”
The scene of where Baghdadi is believed to have blown himself up, in northwestern Syria[/caption]