The United States has its "eyes" on acting leader of Daesh (ISIS)* following the reported demise of al-Baghdadi and his "number one replacement" Daesh spokesman Abul-Hasan al-Muhajir last month, President Donald Trump has announced.
"We also got [Baghdadi's] second, they've just taken a man, he got it too," Trump said Tuesday after a speech before the Economic Club of New York. "And guess what? We have our eye on his third. His third has got problems because we know where he is too. So, we have to keep it that way, otherwise we're going to continue to have problems," the president noted, without elaborating.
Earlier, at a Veterans' Day address in New York City on Monday, Trump said that the US had the next Daesh leader its crosshairs.
"Thanks to American warriors, al-Baghdadi is dead, his second in charge is dead, we have our eyes on number three," Trump said. "His reign of terror is over, and we have our enemies running very, very scared. Those who threaten our people don't stand a chance against the righteous might of the American military," he added.
In his Tuesday address, Trump reiterated that he would like to bring US forces home from Syria after "decimating" Daesh, but added that "we've kept the oil."
According to the president, he expected "offshoots" of the terrorist group to "start building up again" now that Daesh has lost its former territories. "It would be nice if other countries could handle it but maybe they won't."
Syria's President Skeptical of US Narrative on Baghdadi
In a recent interview, Syrian President Bashar Assad expressed his doubts about the alleged death of al-Baghdadi. "He was prepared by the Americans to play that role and we don't believe this recent story of killing him," Assad said. "Maybe he is killed, but it's not about what they've mentioned. The whole story was about whitewashing the American hand from being hand in a glove with the terrorists during the last, not only few years, but during the last decades," he added.
The Syrian leader also voiced skepticism over the US claims due to a lack of photographic or video evidence of al-Baghdadi's alleged demise, pointing out that when ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was captured, it was shown, when Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was tortured and murdered, it was shown. "Why didn't they show us the body of Bin Laden? Why didn't they show us the body of al-Baghdadi?" Assad asked.
President Trump announced al-Baghdadi's death in a special address on October 27, saying the terrorist leader had taken his own life, and that of three of his children, by blowing up a suicide vest during a US special forces raid. Trump said al-Baghdadi was identified on the spot by a DNA test. His remains were said to have been buried at sea within 24 hours of his death.
After President Trump's announcement on al-Baghdadi's elimination late last month, Russia's Ministry of Defence, Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), and the Kremlin all said that they had yet to receive official confirmation that the terrorist had been killed.
Daesh confirmed the death of its leader on October 31.
*A terrorist group outlawed in many countries.