Iraq has arrested one of the former candidates to succeed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the slain leader of the ISIL (ISIS) group, the Iraqi Intelligence Service announced.
In a brief statement on Wednesday, the intelligence agency said: “Today, the terrorist named Nasser al-Qirdash, the candidate to succeed the criminal (Abu Bakr) al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, has been arrested.”
Iraqi news agency al-Sumaria published photos of al-Qirdash after the arrest, dressed in a yellow and red chequered shirt and black trousers.
The US said al-Baghdadi was killed in an air raid last October in the countryside of Idlib province in northeast Syria.
In the aftermath, ISIL appointed Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Quraishi as the successor to Baghdadi, while al-Qirdash was appointed to the number two position.
The announcement of al-Qirdash’s arrest coincides with the escalation of attacks in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq by suspected ISIL fighters, especially in the region between Kirkuk, Salahuddin and Diyala, known as the “Triangle of Death”.
In 2017, Iraq declared victory over ISIL after reclaiming its entire territory – estimated to be about a third of the country’s area – after the group invaded and took control in the summer of 2014.