Several months ago, when ISIS' oil money started to dry up as a result of Russian airstrikes severing key supply routes with Turkey, we predicted that it is only a matter of time before the entire conflict (because technically there is no war) involving the Islamic State would quietly be swept away from the front pages, since the primary objective behind ISIS - the removal of Syria's president al-Assad - had failed, with the arrival of Russian military forces in Syria. We also suggested that the most effective way to achieve this would be through the elimination of the Islamic State's figurehead, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
And now that the conflict against Islamic State forces is making rapid progress both in Iraq and in Syria, with forces rapidly closing in on the ISIS capital of Raqqa for one final major battle before ISIS is relegated to the trash heap of US-funded "has been" terrorist organizations alongside Al-qaeda, it is only fitting to have a bin Ladinesque send off to Baghdadi as well.
Which is perhaps why on Tuesday morning, Asian, Iranian and Arab media all reported that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi died on Sunday after his hideout was bombed by the U.S. led-coalition. The news about al-Baghdadi’s death, first reported by Western Journalism, came after an Iraqi TV channel reported last week that the ISIS boss had been wounded near the Iraqi-Syrian border.
Iraq's Al Sumariya TV cited local sources in Iraq’s Nineveh province who told the channel that al-Baghdadi and other ISIS leaders had been injured by a coalition airstrike on the Islamic State’s headquarters near the Syrian border. When Col. Chris Garver, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition, was asked if he could confirm the Al Sumariyah report, he said that he had “nothing to confirm” at that moment.
It wasn't just the Iraqis: on Tuesday Indian and Iranian media also reported they had evidence of al-Baghdadi’s death and released a video with images of what seems to be the corpse of the ISIS leader. In Khabar, a Hindi-language news channel in India, was the first outlet that published the images.
Other media reported that Amaq News Agency, an outlet that is linked to ISIS, had published an official statement that read: “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been killed by coalition air strikes on Raqqa on the fifth day of Ramadan.” Meanwhile, the British news site Mirror, cited Iraqi security officers who claimed al-Baghdadi died in Mosul, Iraq.
“Iraqi aircraft hit Baghdadi’s convoy as it was moving towards Karabla to attend a meeting of the Daesh [ISIS] terrorist leaders,” the Mirror reported, citing an unnamed source in Iraq.
A statement from Amaq news agency linked to Islamic State said: "Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been killed by coalition air strikes on Raqqa on the fifth day of Ramadan." Another source claimed he died in Mosul, Iraq - another ISIS-held stronghold.
As we have reported previously, Al-Baghdadi has been traveling around to avoid being captured or killed by his many enemies. He traveled from Syria to Mosul at least twice over the last six months and reportedly visited Libya, where he helped organize the conquest of a large part of Libya’s coastal plain.
The self-proclaimed caliph was born as Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim al-Badri in 1971 in Samarra, Iraq. Al-Baghdadi later claimed the tribe he belonged to descended from the Prophet Muhammad. The ISIS leader obtained bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree and a doctorate in Islamic studies from the Islamic University of Baghdad. After the American invasion of Iraq, al-Baghdadi helped to found the Islamist group Jamaat Jaysh Ahl al-Sunnah wa-l-Jamaah. He was arrested by U.S. forces on Feb. 2, 2004, but reportedly was released in December that year after he was designated “a low-level prisoner.” Other reports claim that al-Baghdadi remained in custody until 2009 and that he was imprisoned with other future ISIS leaders.
In May 2010, according to folklore, al-Baghdadi became the leader of Islamic State in Iraq, the official al-Qaida branch in the country, and organized a string of deadly suicide attacks that escalated after the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. He remained the group’s leader until the founding of ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant that came into being after the group expanded its activities into Syria.
On June 29, 2014, out of the blue, al-Baghdadi announced the establishment of a worldwide caliphate, a move that was harshly condemned by many Islamic governments and led to a conflict with al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. The move was also facilitated with the funding of various nations, including Qatar and Saudi Arabia, while according to declassified reports, the CIA was also instrumental in ISIS' formative years which would be used as a blunt object to eliminate Al-Assad from power.
The death of al-Baghdadi will likely be a serious blow to the Islamic State after the organization already lost more than 40 percent of its territory in Iraq and Syria and suffered a string of battle losses recently.