The New Arab Logo

Breaking News
US-led coalition 'cannot confirm' death of Islamic State chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

US-led coalition 'cannot confirm' death of Islamic State chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

This is not the first time IS leader Baghdadi has been rumoured dead [Getty]

Date of publication: 17 June, 2017

Share this page:
  • 0

  • twitter
The Russian army said earlier that it hit IS leaders in an airstrike in Syria last month and was seeking to verify whether Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been killed.

The US-led coalition battling the Islamic State group said on Friday it could not confirm the death of the group's leader following reports by the Russia army that he might have been killed.

"We cannot confirm these reports at this time," said US Army Colonel Ryan S. Dillon, spokesman for the coalition's Operation Inherent Resolve in Syria and Iraq.

The Russian army said earlier that it hit IS leaders in an airstrike in Syria last month and was seeking to verify whether IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been killed.

It said it had informed Washington of the May 28 strike near the extremists' Syria stronghold of Raqqa, which is now under assault by US-backed fighters.

"Senior commanders of the military groups of the so-called IS military council, 30 mid-ranking field commanders and up to 300 militants who provided security for them were eliminated," it said.

"According to information which is being checked through various channels, the leader of ISIL (IS) Ibrahim Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was also present at the meeting and was eliminated by the strike."

Who is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi?

This is not the first time Baghdadi has been rumoured dead, and once again reports of his demise may be exaggerated.

A character shrouded in mystery, Baghdadi's real name may be Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim al-Badri, and he may have been born in 1971 in Samarra, an ancient Iraqi city in the so-called Sunni Triangle north of Baghdad.

He may have been a cleric in a mosque in the city around the time of the US-led invasion in 2003. Reports suggest he was radicalised during the four years he was held at Camp Bucca, a US prison in southern Iraq where many al-Qaeda commanders were detained.

He emerged as the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, one of the groups that later became Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) in 2010 and then Islamic State (IS) in 2014, and rose to prominence during the failed merger with al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front in Syria (now Jabhet Fateh al-Sham).

He did not swear allegiance to the leader of the al-Qaeda franchise, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who had urged IS to focus on Iraq and leave Syria to al-Nusra.

Baghdadi and his fighters split with al-Qaeda and pursued an ultraviolent form of extremism that included bringing back slavery, engaging in genocide on non-Muslim minorities and Shia Muslims, and applying an extreme version of Islamic capital punishments, involving live immolation and mass beheading.

The group and lone wolves inspired by it have claimed numerous terror attacks from the US to the Philippines, via Europe and the Middle East.

In 2014, following his group's rapid capture of Mosul and vast swathes of western Iraq, he declared himself from the pulpit of al-Nuri Mosque in the Old City of Mosul the new caliph, leader of the entire Muslim nation, a title abolished in 1924 with the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

The New ArabComments

Most Popular

Most Popular

    Read More