Abed al-Rahman Mustafa, also known as Abu Alaa al-Afri, has been appointed as the new leader of ISIL following Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s alleged spinal injury following an American air raid in the northwest of Iraq.
"Afri is the most powerful man in the organization after al-Baghdadi himself," the media reported Dr Hisham al Hashimi, adviser to the Iraqi prime minister on matters concerning Islamic State, as saying.
Al Afri was a former physics professor in Tal Afar in Nineveh. He was born in the city of al-Khidr, 80 kilometers south of Mosul, and helped form what would later become Islamic State while serving as a senior commander in al-Qaeda in Iraq.
According to a report published by the British newspaper The Guardian, he allegedly traveled to Afghanistan in 1998, before rising to the position of senior commanderof al-Qaeda in Iraq.
He allied himself to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, head of the organization in 2004. After al-Zarqawi's assassination 2010, he took overall leadership responsibilities for Iraqi operations for the terrorist organization.
Al Afri is a follower of the prominent jihadi scholar Abu Musaab al-Suri and has a number of publications and religious (shariah) studies of his own, according to media reports.