From ‘caliph’ to fugitive: IS leader Baghdadi’s new life on the run

FILE PHOTO: A man purported to be the reclusive leader of the militant Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi making what would have been his first public appearance, at a mosque in the centre of Iraq's second city, Mosul, according to a video recording posted on the Internet on July 5, 2014, in this still image taken from video.      REUTERS/Social Media Website via Reuters TV/File Photo
FILE Photograph: A Person purported to be the reclusive chief of the militant Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi making what would were his first public look, at a mosque in the centre of Iraq’s 2nd Metropolis, Mosul, consistent with a video recording posted on the internet on…

REUTERS/Social Media Web Site by means of Reuters TV/File Photo

By Means Of BAGHDAD/ERBIL, Iraq

Islamic State chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is on the brink of dropping the 2 primary centers of his ‘caliphate’ But even if He’s on the run, it should take years to seize or kill him, officials and consultants mentioned.

Islamic State warring parties are on the subject of defeat in the twin capitals of the workforce’s territory, Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria, and officers say Baghdadi is steerage away from each, hiding in lots of square miles of barren region between the two.

“In The End, he’s going to either be killed or captured, he will not be able to remain underground ceaselessly,” stated Lahur Talabany, the top of counter-terrorism On The Kurdistan Regional Government, the Kurdish self sustaining Area in northern Iraq. “But it is a few years away nonetheless,” he told Reuters.

Certainly One Of Baghdadi’s main issues is to make sure those round him do not betray him for the $25 million reward provided Through the U.S. to carry him “to justice”, said Hisham al-Hashimi, who advises Middle East governments on Islamic State affairs.

“With Out A land to rule openly, he can no longer claim the title caliph,” Hashimi said. “He Is A Man on the run and the collection of his supporters is shrinking as they lose territory.”

Iraqi forces have retaken much of Mosul, the northern Iraqi Metropolis the hardline workforce seized in June 2014 and from which Baghdadi declared himself “caliph” or leader of all Muslims rapidly afterwards. Raqqa, his capital in Syria, is almost surrounded By Means Of a coalition of Syrian Kurdish and Arab teams.

The closing public video footage of him displays him dressed in black clerical robes declaring his caliphate from the pulpit of Mosul’s medieval Grand al-Nuri mosque back in 2014.

Born Ibrahim al-Samarrai, Baghdadi is a 46-yr-Old Iraqi who broke faraway from al-Qaeda in 2013, two years after the seize and killing of the group’s leader Osama bin Laden.

He grew up in a religious domestic, studied Islamic Theology in Baghdad and joined the Salaafi jihadist insurgency in 2003, the year of america-led invasion of Iraq. He was once caught By Means Of the Americans who released him a couple of yr later as they considered him then as a civilian reasonably than a defense force goal.

BOUNTY

He’s shy and reserved, Hashimi stated, and has lately stuck to the sparsely populated Iraq-Syria border the place drones and strangers are easy to identify.

The U.S. Department of State’s Counter-Terrorism Rewards Program had put the same $25 million bounty on Bin Laden and Iraqi former president Saddam Hussein and the reward remains to be to be had for Bin Encumbered’s successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Neither Saddam nor Bin Weighted Down have been voluntarily betrayed, But The bounties complicated their actions and communications.

“The reward creates worry and tension, it restricts his movements and limit the selection of his guards,” said Fadhel Abu Ragheef, a Baghdad-based knowledgeable on extremist groups. “He would not keep greater than 72 hours in anyone situation.”

Baghdadi “has change into frightened and really cautious in his actions”, said Talabany, whose products and services are immediately excited by countering Islamic State plots. “His circle of trust has turn out to be even smaller.”

His final recorded speech was once issued in early November, two weeks after the start of the Mosul Struggle, when he urged his followers to battle the “unbelievers” and “make their blood drift as rivers”.

U.S. and Iraqi officers imagine he has left operational commanders behind with diehard followers to fight the battles of Mosul and Raqqa, to center of attention on his own survival.

It Is Not that you can think of to substantiate his whereabouts.

Baghdadi does now not use phones and has a handful collection of approved couriers to keep in touch together with his two primary aides, Iyad al-Obaidi, his security minister, and Ayad al-Jumaili, in control of security. There used to be no affirmation of an April 1 Iraqi state TV Report that Jumaili had been killed.

Baghdadi strikes in strange cars, or the more or less decide-up vehicles utilized by farmers, between hideouts on either side of the Iraqi-Syrian border, with only a driver and two bodyguards, stated Hashimi.

The Region is well-known to his males because the hotbed of the Sunni insurgency in opposition to U.S. forces that invaded Iraq and later the Shi’ite-led governments that took over the united states of america.

On The top of its energy two years ago, Islamic State ruled over thousands and thousands of people in territory running from northern Syria via cities and villages along the Tigris and Euphrates river valleys to the outskirts of the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

It persecuted non-Sunnis and even Sunnis who did not believe its excessive model of Islamic regulation, with public executions and whippings for violating strict controls on look, behavior and movement.

However The crew has been chickening out due to the fact that within the face of a mess of native, regional and global forces, driven into action Through the rankings of deadly attacks all over the world that it has claimed or inspired.

A Couple Of hundred thousand individuals now live within the areas beneath the team’s keep an eye on, in and around Raqqa and Deir al-Zor, in Syria’s east, and in A Number Of pockets south and west of Mosul. Hashimi mentioned Islamic State used to be moving some combatants out of Raqqa sooner than it was encircled to regroup in Deir al-Zor.

Mosul, with pre-war population of two million, was at the least four occasions the scale of some other the crew has held. Up To 200,000 individuals are nonetheless trapped in the Old City, Islamic State’s besieged enclave in Mosul, lacking provides and getting used as human shields to obstruct the growth of Iraqi forces Through a USAled international coalition.

The Syrian Democratic Forces, product of Kurdish and Arab teams supported By the U.S.-led coalition, commenced to assault Raqqa closing week, after a months-long marketing campaign to chop it off.

The militants are additionally preventing Russian and Iranian-backed forces in Syria loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, and primarily Sunni Muslim Syrian rebels backed Via Turkey.

The remaining authentic File about Baghdadi was from the Iraqi armed forces on Feb. 13. Iraqi F-16s carried out a strike on a home where he was once thought to be meeting different commanders, in western Iraq, near the Syrian border, it said.

Total, Islamic State has 8,000 opponents left, of which 2,000 are foreigners from different Arab states, Europe, Russia and significant Asia, stated Abu Ragheef.

“A small number in comparison with the tens of thousands arrayed in opposition to them in each countries, However a Force to be reckoned with, made of die-hards with nothing to lose, hiding in the midst of civilians and making intensive use of booby traps, mines and explosives,” he stated.

The U.S. Govt has a joint activity Force to trace down Baghdadi which incorporates different operations forces, the CIA and other U.S. intelligence companies in addition to spy satellites of the Nationwide Geospatial Intelligence Company.

It’s Going To take greater than that to erase his influence, Talabany stated. “He Is nonetheless regarded as the chief of ISIL and many continue to battle for him; that hasn’t changed substantially,” he said, using Certainly One Of Islamic State’s acronyms.

Even Though killed or captured, he introduced, “his legacy and that of ISIL will endure except radical extremism is tackled.”

(For a graphic on “Battle for keep watch over in Syria”, click on tmsnrt.rs/2stEWIz)

(Reporting By Way Of Maher Chmaytelli)

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