Tuesday 21 July 2015

ISIS Leader Takes Steps To Ensure Group’s Survival

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, said to be the Islamic State's leader, in an image taken from the website of a militant group last July

The Islamic State’s reclusive leader has empowered his inner circle of deputies as well as regional commanders in Syria and Iraq with wide-ranging authority, a plan to ensure that if he or other top figures are killed, the organization will quickly adapt and continue fighting, American and Iraqi intelligence officials say.

The officials say the leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, delegates authority to his cabinet, or shura council, which includes ministers of war, finance, religious affairs and others.

The Islamic State’s leadership under Mr. Baghdadi has drawn mainly from two pools: veterans of Al Qaeda in Iraq who survived the insurgency against American forces with battle-tested militant skills, and former Baathist officers under Saddam Hussein with expertise in organization, intelligence and internal security. It is the merger of these two skill sets that has made the organization such a potent force, the officials say.

In delegating authority, Mr. Baghdadi has drawn lessons from the fates of other militant groups, including that of a branch in Yemen called Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, whose leaders have been whittled away by repeated American drone strikes over the years, said a Western diplomat who monitors the group.

“ISIS has learned from that and has formed a structure that can survive the losses of leaders by giving midlevel commanders a degree of autonomy,” the diplomat said. In that structure, the overall operation would not be immediately affected if Mr. Baghdadi were wounded or killed, he said.

Culled from new York times