Under the leadership of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the ultra-violent jihadist group Islamic State (IS) evolved from a gang of insurgents to the most formidable and feared militant group in the world, expanding across continents from Africa to Australasia. Now that its chief has been killed, IS will find a way to adapt.
What remains of the IS leadership will have long planned for this day.
The group will want to demonstrate its resilience and signal to its followers that it has not been knocked off balance by the loss of such a well-known figure.
A Shura committee of senior figures – all male – will have already considered a number of candidates.
Prerequisites for the role will be an unquestionable loyalty to IS, a proven ability to plan strategically and, preferably, impeccable religious credentials, some battlefield experience and perhaps also a reputation for meting out harsh punishments.
IS has always been a bizarre fusion of ultra-conservative jihadists with former members of the late…