ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is not dead as rumors suggest
ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may not be dead as rumors suggest but is in hiding, US intelligence believes.
Despite his unwillingness to be photographed and having only spoken in public on few occasions, US counter-terrorism officials believe Baghadi he is trying to come up with a strategy for the decreasing number of ISIS fighters, according to The Washington Post.
Among these strategies is a rebuilding of the ideological foundations of the caliphate by developing a program to indoctrinate schoolchildren.
One officer, known as Abu Zaid al-Iraqi, said that Baghdadi gathered his top aides near the city of Deir al-Zour in Syria in mid-2017 for a meeting last year as Raqqa, the group’s capital in Iraq, fell and its footing was being lost in Syria.
‘Several top leaders were present, as well as the curricula committee, which I headed,’ al-Iraqi said in a videotaped statement aired on Iraqi television.
It is one of a few reported appearances by the terrorist leader who has managed to avoid the spotlight.
His one confirmed public appearance took place in July 2014 when he spoke at a mosque in Mosul declaring the establishment of the Islamic State.
His elusiveness has led to a number of false reports saying he is dead or on the brink of death.
Media reports of three different aerial bombings, carried out by Russia or the US, stated Baghadid was dead. He was also reported as having been arrested in Syria and poisoned by would-be assassins.
In 2016, a bounty for Baghdadi’s capture was raised from $10 million to $25 million.
Several reports came in sightings, but few were credible about his movements, an anonymous counter-terrorism official told the Post.
But US intelligence, through detainee interrogations, intercepts and writings from ISIS operatives, say Baghdadi is alive and well.
‘We think he’s still coordinating, still helping to run the organization,’ the official said.
‘Our best guess is that he is still in Syria, in one of the remaining parts of the country still controlled by ISIS.’
Some say Baghdadi’s absence is to take the emphasis away from leaders and place it on spreading the group’s ideology.
Source: Daily Mail