Killing Al-Baghdadi: the end of the Caliphate or part of the narrative?

“IS and all jihadis believe that there is going to be war until the day of reckoning. A Caliphate will be re-constituted before the end times. But there are 12 Caliphs before the coming of the messiah … This [current] Caliph is number 7. So in theory, there are 5 more caliphs after him who will rule until the end times and there will be perpetual war against the enemies of Islam until that.”

Professor Bernard Haykel of Princeton University’s Department of Near Eastern Studies explains  the narrative of succession for Islamic leaders before the final establishment of the Caliphate. Even if the US-led attacks on the Islamic State would manage to kill Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, there “would be no lack of candidates” to succeed him, argues Professor Haykel.

The interview was recorded in Amsterdam on November 14, 2014.