Abu Bakr-al Baghdadi dead? Amidst report that the ISIS chief may have died in a Russian airstrike, Russia’s Defense Ministry today said it is verifying the information indicating that the dreaded terrorist was reportedly killed in a Russia-led airstrike in Syria. According to Russia TV (RT), “Russian Su-34 aircraft and an Su-35 multirole fighter carried out airstrikes near the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa in northern Syria on May 28.” The report said that the air strike had targeted a meeting of top ISIS chiefs, including al-Baghdadi. “According to information, which is being checked through various channels, IS leader Ibrahim Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi was also present at the meeting and was killed as a result of the strike,” the ministry was reported as saying in a statement by RT. The statement further said the meeting was called to plan “routes for the exit of militants from Raqqa through the so-called ‘southern corridor’.”
However, this is not the first time when reports have claimed the death of ISIS leader. Five days ago, Syrian state television also claimed that Baghdadi was killed in an airstrike. It said that the terrorist, who has a $25 million bounty on his head, was killed in an airstrike in Raqqa.
Incidentally in June last year, reports had also claimed that the ISIS leader was killed in an air raid by the US-led coalition. IANS had then reported Iranian state media and pro-government Turkish daily Yenis Safak as saying that Baghdadi died in an air strike on ISIS stronghold of Raqqa in northern Syria. The claim was made on the basis of a statement from IS-affiliated Arabic news agency al-Amaq which said that ISIS’ ‘Caliph’ Baghdadi was killed.
A profile of Baghdadi on BBC.com says that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was reportedly seriously injured in an air strike by a US-led coalition in early 2015. Following this, the rumors of his death appeared. However, in a May 2015 video, Baghdadi had appealed to Muslims across the world to emigrate to the “caliphate” that the group had claimed to have set up in areas of Syria and Iraq.
As of now, nothing much is known about the ISIS chief. His most popular photo being circulated on internet also reportedly dates back to 2014. Badhdadi is believed to have been born in Samarra in north Baghdad in 1971. During the time of US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, he was reportedly a cleric in a mosque in Samarra. He had reportedly emerged as the head of the al-Qaeda in Iraq in 2010. This group later became the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (now ISIS).
As reports of his alleged killing keeps coming up after some interval, Friday’s reports of Baghdadi’s death is also being seen with suspicion. However, this is probably the first time when such claim has come from Russia, which started its military involvement in Syria in 2015. It remains to be seen if Russia would be able to confirm his death.