One of the founding members of ISIS, Amir Mohammed Abdul Rahman al-Mawli al-Salbi, has reportedly taken the place of former leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was killed in a raid by U.S. special forces in October.
Salbi was named leader hours after Baghdadi’s killing, the Guardian reported, and the initial name the group released, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi, was revealed to be a nom de guerre that disguised Salbi’s identity.
British intelligence has pieced together an image of Salbi that’s a “hardened veteran in the same vein as Baghdadi” and one of the most influential members of ISIS, so much so that the U.S. State Department put a bounty of $5 million on his head.
Born to an Iraqi Turkmen family, Salbi holds a degree in sharia law, which helped him advance in the ranks of ISIS.
Salbi is thought to have written the religious rulings that justified the wide-scale killings of Yazidis and the people of the Nieveh Plains of northern Iraq that ISIS carried out at its height.
The search for Salbi has been extended to Turkey since his brother Adel Salbi is a member of Turkey’s political party Turkmen Iraqi Front.
While ISIS does not have the momentum it had in 2014 when Baghdadi declared himself a caliph of the Islamic world, Kurdish forces in northern Iraq have said that they have noticed activity in the center and north of the country.