The Islamic State leader al-Baghdadi posed as wealthy family man and cloth merchant
Terror chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi posed as a wealthy family man who had made his fortune as a cloth merchant while he hid out in Syria.
People in Barisha, a village in North West Syria, had no idea they were living next to the Islamic State leader until US forces attacked his home and Baghdadi blew himself up.
Baghdadi had been known as a quiet family man called Abu Muhnammad Halabi, who ran his own business.
Local resident Abu Ahmed Barisha said the world’s most wanted terrorist had lived in a large bungalow surrounded by high concrete walls for some time.
He told Turkish news website the Daily Sabah: “There was a large house here and the man who lived here was known as a cloth merchant.”
It had been assumed he was a migrant, forced to stay on the move by the war in Syria.
Barisha spoke of the attack by US special forces, aided by the SAS, which began at midnight on Sunday and lasted four hours. During the raid on the small community in the province of Idlib many householders were too terrified to go out. He said: “Whoever was driving or walking outside that night got shot.”
He said houses were hit with bullets, and there were reports of women being so terrified they suffered miscarriages.
Barisha said several residents had been injured and had to be carried to hospital.
An elderly couple fleeing the gun battle had been shot in the legs as they tried to make it to their son’s home.
Barisha said: “The villagers had no clue as to who was in the house and what happened there that night.”
Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces claim a contact stole Baghdadi’s underwear and Baghdadi’s identity was confirmed using DNA testing before the raid.
But it is not known if the contact was then awarded the £20million reward being advertised by the American authorities.
The location of Baghdadi’s lair has surprised many counter-terror experts because it lies just 20 miles from the border with Turkey.
It bears some similarity to the way in which al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden hid out in a large compound in a military area of Pakistan before being killed in a US special forces raid in 2011.