Some British news sites are reporting that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, is dead, according to unconfirmed accounts from Syrian television, but such death reports have been wrong many times before.
However, Russia now says it is investigating whether it killed the ISIS leader in an air strike in Raqqa in May. Russia says the bombing raid killed 30 ISIS commanders and 300 ISIS fighters, Bloomberg reports.
The earlier reports of the ISIS leader’s demise are coming from the Syrian government, at least according to some British sites. Bashar Al Assad’s government would benefit from reports of Al-Baghdadi’s death – even if they were not true – as the regime insists it’s trying to crack down on ISIS militants as part of its crushing of the rebel insurgency. However, Assad has not released a formal statement on the supposed death, which may be another false death report of a terrorist for whom there has been many.
The terrorist leader is a cat with nine lives. However, there were also reports that Al-Baghdadi was an increasingly isolated figure as the Coalition forces picked off his upper echelon one-by-one. Time will tell in relation to the June 10 reports. American media and the U.S. government had yet to confirm them.
First the new reports: “Claims suggest the leader of ISIS Abu Bkr al-Baghdadi was killed in an air strike on Saturday” June 10, reports UK Mirror. Reported UK Express, “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who has been in hiding as coalition forces look to end ISIS’s reign of terror, was reportedly killed on Saturday.” However, the claims all supposedly derive from Syrian-controlled TV, the British news sites reported without providing video evidence of that claim. Al Masdar News also reported on the claims.
Time will tell whether they are true or will go down in the annals of false death and injury reports involving the elusive Al-Baghdadi.
According to News.com.au, the ISIS “stronghold of Raqqa was bombed heavily overnight on Saturday, local time, with the terrorist group’s Amaq news agency revealing the damage.” The unverified reports allege that Al-Baghdadi was killed in Raqqa.
According to the Mirror, Al-Baghdadi has had close escapes with death in the past. “Recent evidence unearthed for a documentary shows Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi escaped capture in Iraq by just minutes back in 2013,” the news site reported.
In March, the Pentagon had to tell the news media that Al-Baghdadi was still alive despite reports of decimated ISIS leadership on the battlefield and chaos in the Islamic State’s ranks. That same month, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson pledged that it was only a “matter of time” before the ISIS leader was killed.
“Nearly all of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s deputies are now dead, including the mastermind behind the attacks in Brussels, Paris, and elsewhere. It is only a matter of time before Baghdadi himself meets the same fate,” Tillerson said.
In April 2017, it was also reported that Al-Baghdadi had been wounded after reports that U.S. helicopters had landed in ISIS territory in a bid to “assassinate” the ISIS leader.
“U.S. and Iraqi defense officials, in their most expansive comments to date on al-Baghdadi’s fate, described an isolated commander hiding in the desert and focused largely on his own survival, a sharp contrast to the charismatic jihadi preacher who barely more than a year ago ruled a ‘caliphate’ that stretched from central Syria to the outskirts of Baghdad,” reported The Washington Times in March 2017.
In January 2017, there were reports that Al-Baghdadi had been “critically injured” in air strikes in Iraq. The ISIS leader “was said to have been wounded after a US-led coalition bombing raid in Al-Ba’aj in northern Iraq,” reported the Sun. However, he lived to see another day after that report too.
In 2016, British media spread false reports that Al-Baghdadi had been poisoned and was dead. That report derived from the Iraqi News agency. “The ISIS leader was poisoned alongside three of his commanders after all four consumed spiked meals in the Be’aaj district, southwest of Mosul in Iraq,” reported UK Express in 2016; if the terrorist leader was poisoned at all, he survived that account too.
Al-Baghdadi’s death would be a big deal to Coalition forces; he’s one of the world’s most wanted men with a multi-million dollar bounty on his head.
This post will be updated as more is learned about the ISIS leader’s fate.