Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the elusive leader of the Islamic State (ISIS), is reportedly seriously ill after he, along with three other senior commanders of the ISIS were poisoned by an assassin. According to a report by The Daily Mail, which in turn cites an Iraqi news agency WAA, the four men were poisoned in what the Iraqi agency says was an assassination attempt on the senior commanders. The agency claimed that the incident happened during a feast held in the Be’aaj district of Iraq located near Mosul, not far from the ancient Mesopotamian town of Nineveh. At the time of this publishing, the reports of this assassination attempt remain unverified and there has been no official statement from the Islamic State confirming or denying these reports.
Meanwhile, the WAA report says that all four men were “seriously ill” and that they were taken to an undisclosed location for treatment. The Islamic State has also reportedly launched a campaign to arrest and find the people who were responsible for the poisoning, the agency adds.
What makes the claim of the WAA questionable is the fact that no major news agency has verified the report and the fact that in the past too, there have been several reports which claimed that Abu Bakr al-Baghdad had either sustained serious injuries or had died under different circumstances – all of which were found to be untrue later. When asked about the latest news regarding the poisoning of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Pentagon spokesman and Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told The New York Post the following.
“We aware of the reports, but we have no information to corroborate [them]. Suffice it to say we always have great interest in the whereabouts and condition of the leader of ISIL.”
While very little is known about the life and past of the 45-year-old Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, what we know is that he was born on July 28, 1971 as Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim Ali Muhammad al-Badri al-Samarrai, near the city of Samarra, Iraq. His contemporaries have described him as a very shy, unimpressive young man wished to stay away from violence. In the mid-90s until 2004, Baghdadi was living in Iraq’s capital city Baghdad in a room attached to a small local mosque in Tobchi which happens to be a poor neighborhood where both Shia and Sunni Muslims lived. Baghdadi is believed to be an Islamic scholar who has a doctorate for Islamic studies in Quranic studies, from Saddam University in Baghdad. He is also reported to have obtained a BA, MA, and PhD in Islamic studies from the Islamic University of Baghdad.
Interestingly, Baghdadi was arrested by the U.S. forces near the city of on February 2, 2004 for an unknown offense. He was detained at the Abu Ghraib and Camp Bucca detention centers under his name Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim al-Badry where he was listed as a “civilian internee.” Baghdadi remained there until December 2004, following which he was recommended for release by a Combined Review and Release Board which labeled him a “low level prisoner.” Little did they know that in less than a decade, the low-level prisoner will head one of the most dreaded terrorist organizations the planet has ever seen.
The rise of the ISIS almost coincides with the waning of the al-Qaeda which was stood divided following the death of its leader Osama bin Laden in 2011. In just three years since Laden’s death Baghdadi in June 2014, he was elected as the supreme leader of the ISIS – also known as the caliph. As the caliph, Baghdadi also claims to be the leader of all Muslims across the world. By then, he had also expanded the territory held by the Islamic State to parts of Syria. In fact, the Syrian city of Raqqa serves as the capital of the Islamic State.
The U.S. has officially designated Baghdadi as a terrorist who carries a $10 million reward on his head.
[Featured Image by Militant video/AP Images, File]