In a major development, the supreme leader of the Islamic State (ISIS) and the head of its caliphate, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has been reportedly killed in a U.S.-led airstrike in Syria.
Update: The Independent reports that Baghdadi is still alive and that reports of his death was based on a digitally altered message claiming to be a media statement from Islamic State.
Since I’ve been asked: sorry folks, but this purported IS claim of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s death is fake: pic.twitter.com/9pEGUpOG5C
— Aymenn J Al-Tamimi (@ajaltamimi) June 12, 2016
According to the Mirror, al-Baghdadi was seriously injured in an airstrike on Friday and later died from his wounds. There has been no official statement from the U.S. government about these developments. According to several sections of the Arabic media, al-Baghdadi was killed in the de facto capital of the Islamic State, the city of Raqqa. He was accompanied by several commanders of ISIS at the time of the airstrike, several of whom are either injured or killed.
A report by the New Indian Express claimed that the death of al-Baghdadi has been confirmed officially by ISIS.
The terror organization reportedly issued a statement about the death of their leader, which read, “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been killed by coalition airstrikes on Raqqa on the fifth day of Ramadan.”
A report by Iraqi news channel Al Sumaria claimed that al-Baghdadi was killed somewhere near the porous border between Iraq and Syria. Several pro-ISIS media outlets, including al-Amaq, also reported about al-Baghdadi’s death.
— India Today (@IndiaToday) June 14, 2016
However, this is not the first time al-Baghdadi has been reportedly killed in a U.S. airstrike. In 2014, there were reports about his death. However, he was seen alive and well a few weeks after the reports emerged.
Al-Baghdadi, 44, was born Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Ali Muhammad al-Badri al-Samarrai in the town of Samarra in Iraq. A shy religious scholar in his younger days, al-Baghdadi reportedly spent a decade living in a poor neighborhood of Baghdad. He reportedly has a doctorate in Islamic studies from a university in Baghdad. In February 2014, al-Baghdadi was arrested near the city of Fallujah by U.S. forces. He was detained at Camp Bucca for a brief period. He was released the same year as a “low-level prisoner.”
It was only after 2010 that al-Baghdadi started making a comeback. This was the same year he was announced as the leader of the al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), which was also known then as the Islamic State of Iraq, after his predecessor, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, died. This was followed by a string of terror attacks across Iraq, reportedly organized by him.
In 2013, at the height of the Syrian civil war, he expanded his operations into Syria. On April 8, 2013, he issued a statement which announced the formation of the ISIS or ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant). In 2014, ISIS announced its ambitious plans to establish a worldwide caliphate with al-Baghdadi as its head. He was to be known as “Caliph Ibrahim.” ISIS was also formally renamed to the Islamic State (IS).
The Islamic State later issued an audio-taped message that warned the west about its global ambitions. The message warned non-Muslim “unbelievers” that the IS would march on “Rome” and will establish an Islamic State that would span the entire Middle East across Europe. He also called upon Muslims from across the globe to immigrate to the newly formed Islamic State. In a video that was released a few months later, he also declared himself the world leader of Muslims.
Under his leadership, the Islamic State managed to expand its territory across Iraq and Syria. Currently, the Islamic State controls an estimated two million to eight million people in the regions where they have taken over. The Islamic State is known to enforce strict Islamic Sharia law in all territories controlled by them. Known for its brutal tactics, the Islamic State has also managed to stage terror attacks across the world.
The first major international operation by them was the attack on the office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. This was followed by two major terror attacks in France. The U.S. too has been a victim of two terror attacks with probable ISIS connections executed by them in the last seven months — starting with the San Bernardino attacks and the more recent Orlando shootings, the worst terror attack on U.S. soil since the September 2011 attacks.
[Photo by Hadi Mizban/AP Images]