Is ISIS Leader Al-Baghdadi Dead? 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Al-Baghdadi, ISIS

Screengrab (Youtube)

Rumors are swirling in the aftermath of airstrikes on ISIS leadership over the weekend regarding the fate of leader and “caliph”, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

While some have claimed that the elusive leader was killed, this has not been confirmed by any official reports.

Many reports have been directly contradictory, with few clear conclusions.

Al-Baghdadi has had a $10 million bounty on his head for three years.

1. Iraqi Officials Claim Al-Baghdadi Was Injured

Iraqi Defence minister Khalid al-Obaidi (Getty)

Iraqi Defence minister Khalid al-Obaidi (Getty)

Iraq’s Interior Ministry issued a statement saying al-Baghdadi had been wounded, and it is reported that Iraqi state-run television also made the claim on Sunday night.

According to CNN, it is “unusual” for the Interior Ministry to make a claim of this type.

Neither the Iraqi Defense Ministry nor the Prime Minister’s Office have issued a statement of any kind regarding the rumors.

2. The U.S. Is Offering No Confirmation to the Rumors

Syria Airstrikes

Lt. Gen. William C. Mayville Jr., shows before and after photos as he speaks on the airstrikes in Syria during a briefing at the Pentagon September 23, 2014 (Getty)

U.S. officials have confirmed that air strikes were carried out this weekend to target an ISIS leadership convoy, but have not confirmed if they believed Baghdadi was present in this convoy.

Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren acknowledged the buzz coming from Iraqi officials, saying that “We do not have any information to corroborate reports out of Iraq that Baghdadi has been either killed or wounded.”

3. ISIS Leadership Has Been Hit Hard By Air Strikes

An RAF fighter jet takes off for the British forces' first mission over Iraq on September 27, 2014 (Getty)

An RAF fighter jet takes off for the British forces’ first mission over Iraq on September 27, 2014 (Getty)

The U.S. and coalition forces began air strikes on ISIS in the late summer, and have ramped up the action since the early fall, pounding ISIS leadership and fighters on the ground with over 154 strikes in Iraq alone by September 3rd, with likely many more since then.

This weekend alone, the U.S. and coalition forces are reported to have launched a spate of strikes against ISIS, conducting 23 air strikes in Syria and 18 in Iraq since Friday.

4. His Closest Aides Are Said to Have Been Killed and Wounded

Given the nature of ISIS’s leadership structure and isolation from anyone who could confirm information independently, it is often difficult to confirm rumors of deaths and injuries of specific individuals.

However, many outlets have confirmed the death of an ISIS militant whose presence at the scene of the airstrike may imply that al-Baghdadi was nearby.

Reuters reports that a Mosul morgue official said 50 bodies thought to be ISIS militants were brought to the facility after the air strike.

If al-Baghdadi was at the scene, it will be once more that he has slipped through the net of U.S. attempts to eliminate him. He was in U.S. custody before but was released in 2009, before the true scope of his future plans was known.

5. ISIS Claims Have Been Muddy

Buzzfeed Middle East correspondent Sheera Frenkel has said on Twitter that the above tweet confirms that the account many are attributing to al-Adnani, a senior ISIS leader, is in fact fake.

This account has been the source for many reports claiming that ISIS has “confirmed” al-Baghdadi’s injuries. If debunked, it casts much of this rampant speculation into doubt.

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