While the Islamic State, otherwise known as ISIS or ISIL, is apparently losing ground in the Middle East, the radical organization is currently gaining U.S. ground in the debate over reports of mass shootings among politicians and pundits, whose first question surrounding news of these attacks is whether the shooters are somewhat affiliated with the terrorist group.Thus far, as authorities continue their investigation of the mass shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, earlier in the week al-Amaq -- a news agency with connections to ISIS -- reported that their caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had been killed by U.S.-led air strikes near Mosul.
The terrorist leader came to world prominence when his group, the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIS) began to seize territory in Syria and Iraq in 2014, while the United States was struggling to decide how much military assistance to provide without sending troops as it did during the Bush administration.
Since then, al-Baghdadi's group claimed to have established a worldwide caliphate in June of 2014, and the group essentially lured international coalition forces against it. Those forces have conducted frequent airstrike campaigns and have committed special forces to operate on the ground in league with regional troops.U.S. defense officials have said that they received credible intelligence that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been moving around Mosul over the last six months, which would seem to match up with their reports that he had been wounded on Sunday, 65 miles outside of Mosul by airstrikes.
Al-Amaq published the following statement.
"Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been killed by coalition airstrikes on Raqqa on the fifth day of Ramadan."In February of his year, The Independent reported a possible sighting of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi at a mosque in Fallujah, a city which U.S.-led coalition forces have apparently been battling ISIS over in the past month, as coalition forces attempt to take it back from the terrorist group.
While this is not the first time there have been reports of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's death, The Daily Mail has said that paramilitary forces are accusing ISIS of covering up their leader's death in order to keep morale high in the group as they lose territory.
The Al-Hashd al-Shaabi militia is a Shi'a group that says their intelligence is working to verify the news.
Despite this, there is no indication that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's death will make much difference to the deterioration of the group.
On Thursday CIA director John Brennen told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the Islamic State is still a threat.
"Despite all our progress against ISIL on the battlefield and in the financial realm, our efforts have not reduced the group's terrorism capability and global reach. The resources needed for terrorism are very modest, and the group would have to suffer even heavier losses of territory, manpower and money for its terrorist capacity to decline significantly."Much of the airstrikes against the group have taken out buildings that held money used to finance their operations.
At the same time, regarding both the San Bernardino and Orlando shootings, the so-called "lone wolf" attacks have only been caused by people who simply claimed some loyalty to ISIS and were able to commit their acts by obtaining firearms through legal means, which has furthered the ongoing debate over gun laws in the United States. Such debates have no association on whether Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead or alive.
[Image by Anmar Khalil / AP Photo]