Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may have escaped another airstrike with his life after his convoy was attacked by the Iraqi air force.
Iraq’s military air force attacked a convoy in western Anbar province, believed to be carrying ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Believed to be alive after being targeted in previous airstrikes, the terrorist leader seems to have escaped once again.
CNN reported nine ISIS officials were killed in the airstrike, along with members of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s bodyguard. Many of the officials were military leaders, and one official was an adviser to al-Baghdadi, according to the Iraqi Interior Ministry.
While it was unknown whether the leader of the so-called Islamic State was injured in the attack on the convoy, the Iraqi Interior Ministry claimed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was “carried away in a vehicle.”
The Associated Press reports that the U.S. military believing Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to be alive is not out of the question. In fact, a U.S. military source told Fox News it was not believed the ISIS leader was hit by the strike on the convoy at all.
A statement released by the U.S. military on Sunday said “the Iraqi air force carried out a heroic operation targeting the convoy of the criminal terrorist Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi” while the ISIS leader was on the way to a meeting in the town of Karabelah. The statement reports al-Baghdadi’s health and whereabouts are not known at the time of the statement.
The place of the meeting in Karabelah was struck by the Iraqi air force, and several more ISIS leaders were wounded and killed, according to the Iraqi Interior Ministry.
The Pentagon could not immediately confirm the reports from the Iraqi Interior Ministry.
Iraqi officials are supposedly collecting DNA from the scene of the airstrike to confirm a hit on Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Iraqi Defense Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool affirmed to the Associated Press that the military is still investigating whether al-Baghdadi was present in the convoy.
It is not the first time the Iraqi Interior Ministry claimed to have targeted and hit Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In November, 2014, reports were made that the terrorist leader was hit in an airstrike and wounded. Again in March, 2015, al-Baghdadi was said to have been hit in another airstrike and wounded. A similar story occurred in May. All times the leader surfaced in audio recordings days after the strikes which supposedly wounded him, according to CNN.
The U.S. military believes al-Baghdadi has been operating around the Raqqa, Syria, area and has stayed in power.
According to CBC News, a Twitter account which publishes statements from ISIS claimed an air strike targeting al-Baghdadi were simply “rumors.”
Even if Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi would be killed in an airstrike, some of his followers claim it would do nothing to shake their faith in the caliphate and their destructive and deadly cause.
One follower said, “Do you think we would leave the State of the caliphate and abandon it, oh vile world? This is the religion of God, it rose on the skulls of heroes and martyrs and every time one of them is martyred we rise.”
CBC News reported that an ISIS fighter reached by phone said he could not report on al-Baghdadi’s condition or whether he was in the convoy which was struck, but it would not matter to him if al-Baghdadi was killed.
“Even if he was martyred then it will not affect Islamic State. We will lose a leader but there are a thousand Baghdadis.”
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi remains one of the most wanted terrorists in the world, and the United States has a $10 million bounty for his capture.
[Photo by AP Photo / Militant Video]