The commando military working dog Conan who was injured chasing down Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi might want to cancel his plans to visit the White House next week as ISIS just named a new leader.
In an eight-minute audio released by ISIS media outlet al-Furqan, ISIS confirmed the deaths of al-Baghdadi and ISIS spokesman Abu Hassan al-Muhajir. The ISIS spokesman was considered by some analysts as the next successor to al-Baghdadi.
ISIS also warned America not to celebrate over the deaths of its leaders and that ISIS will continue its mission, according to a translation of the audio by SITE Intel Group.
Thursday, ISIS announced successors to the two recently vacated positions.
In the audio clip, new ISIS spokesman Abu Hamza al-Qurayshi announced Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Qurayshi as the new caliph of the Islamic State and the “emir of the believers."
The new jihadi leaders are now likely to be on the top of Delta Force’s target list.
This latest ISIS statement and audio clip comes a day following comments at the Pentagon Wednesday by head of U.S. Central Command Marine Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., who cautioned reporters that ISIS was not defeated despite the death of its founder and leader.
McKenzie said that CENTCOM has “no illusions” that the death of al-Baghdadi means that the group is completely defeated. He said the group will take time to reestablish itself and will likely be “disjointed.”
But McKenzie expects ISIS may try to conduct a retribution attack, which U.S. forces are postured and ready to respond to.
Rita Katz, the director of SITE Intel Group, echoed the sentiments of the CENTCOM commander in a series of tweets Thursday.
“For ISIS supporters, the deaths of Baghdadi and Abu Hassan al-Muhajir were never going to change anything. As I write this, new pledges of allegiance are already being posted across ISIS web venues,” Katz tweeted.
“Based on the reactions that are already pouring in from the ISIS community, it appears these new developments have energized the group’s supporters,” she said.
ISIS still controls a considerable number of fighters across Iraq and Syria. According to a February 2019 UN report ISIS still fields 14,000 to 18,000 militants in Iraq and Syrian.
Little is known about the two new ISIS leaders. “The 8-minute audio is mostly to mention the names and ask followers to pledge allegiance to the new leader,” Hassan Hassan, Director of nonstate actors program for the Center for Global Policy, tweeted Thursday.
The New York Times reported that the Qurayshi name is significant, in that it indicates the new ISIS leader is a descendant of the Quraysh tribe of the Prophet Muhammad.
“The speech threatens: “America, don’t you realize that the Islamic State is now at the forefront of Europe and West Africa? It is extended from the East to the West,”” Rita Katz, the director of SITE Intel Group tweeted.
“As ISIS’ online machine is still alive and well, we should expect to see a campaign for this message spanning various platforms, accompanied by pledges from across the world,” Katz tweeted.
Al-Baghdadi was killed in a brazen nighttime heliborne raid carried out by U.S. Delta Force commandos near Syria’s al-Qaida infested Idlib priovince. The terror leader crawled into a tunnel to escape U.S. forces and military working dogs barreling down on his position. The ISIS leader eventually detonated a suicide vest killing himself and two children he had brought into the tunnel with him.
A special operations military working dog named Conan was wounded as he chased after the ISIS leader. The dog was slightly injured by live electrical wires that were exposed after al-Baghdadi detonated his suicide vest. The Pentagon says the dog has since returned to duty and President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday that Conan would be leaving the Middle East soon to visit the White House.
Baghdadi’s remains were flown to a secure site where they were matched with a DNA sample kept from when the ISIS leader was a detainee in 2004 at a U.S. detention facility known as Camp Bucca, Iraq.
McKenzie told reporters Wednesday that at least six ISIS militants, including al-Baghdadi were killed on the objective during the raid. U.S. helicopter gunships also fired upon and killed hostile forces approaching the raid force.
Newsweek was first to report Conan as the name of the injured military working dog.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.