New Zealanders living around the globe remain at threat of Islamic State's wrath, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says
On Sunday (NZ Time), United States President Donald Trump announced that Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi died during a US raid on a compound in north-western Syria. He killed himself by detonating a suicide vest after fleeing into a dead-end tunnel.
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While IS lost the vast majority of its territory in Syria and Iraq over the last year - with the Battle of Baghouz in February seeing the terrorism group lose its last hold in Syria - it has lived on in small pockets around the Middle East.
Al-Baghdadi's death was welcomed by world leaders, but many believed IS - a group that carried out atrocities in the name of a fanatical version of Islam - was not over.
Ardern told The AM Show on Tuesday that IS remained a threat to New Zealanders.
"It is a global threat and I don't think we can look at terrorism as being between defined boundaries," she said.
"If it creates a global threat, New Zealanders are, of course, not just within New Zealand's wall, they are all over the world."
Islamic State's next move will be determined by whoever takes over as leader. However, as CNN reports, a succession plan is only known to a small group of people within the group.
Abdullah Qardash - a confidante of al-Baghdadi - was appointed the head of day-to-day operations of the terrorist organisation in August and it's believed he will now take charge. However, IS is yet to signal any change.
Ardern says while there may be a power vacuum at the moment, eventually, someone will replace al-Baghdadi.
"This moment in time that we have seen here, yes, this is a blow to their leadership, it has created a leadership vacuum but, of course, leaders will be replaceable and so this I think will temporarily create a vacuum. But I have no doubt that leadership will be replaced."
IS has targeted religious minorities and launched attacks on five continents. The group is behind attacks in Paris, Orlando, London, and Manchester.
Al-Baghdadi took lead of the terror group in 2010 but remained largely out of sight during his reign. He was long sought by the United States which offered a US$25 million reward for information leading to his death or capture.