IS chief Baghdadi has escaped Mosul: Britain's foreign secretary
The Foreign Secretary told the House of Commons that IS head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had fled from Mosul. This was ironic as only a day earlier he had asked the militants to not to retreat when faced with Iraqi forces. Al-Baghdadi had proclaimed that he was confident of victory in the de-facto capital Mosul.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was born Ibrahim al-Badari in 1971 near Samarra, 50 miles from Baghdad. He holds a bachelor's degree, a master's degree and a PhD in Islamic Studies from the Islamic University of Baghdad.
The Iraqi military on two occasions had claimed to have injured Baghdadi. In November 2014, the Iraqi military claimed that Baghdadi had been wounded in an airstrike in the town of Al-Qaem. In March 2015, another such report claimed that Baghdadi had been wounded close to the Syrian border. Audio recordings of Baghdadi popped up on social-media each time, within days of the airstrikes.
Baghdadi had been captured in 2005 by the US during their occupation of Iraq, and was held at Camp Bacca in southern Iraq. He was confined in Compound 14 with other Sunni extremists and was considered largely "unremarkable".
An Iraqi military statement said that ISIS leader Baghdadi's convoy while on its way to attending a meeting with senior ISIS commanders in Karabla was hit by an airstrike, and that the ISIS leader was "carried away in a vehicle". There had been similar claims by the Iraqi military in the past, but none were verified. Karabla was also struck, killing several ISIS figures.
A website which publishes ISIS statements claimed that the "rumours" about Baghdadi's convoy being targeted were false. An ISIS fighter reached by telephone was unsure about the Iraqi military's claims, but said, "Even if he was martyred it will not affect Islamic State. We will lose a leader but there are a thousand Baghdadis." The US military declined to comment on the report.
Baghdadi was named leader of the Islamic State of Iraq in 2010, which formally expanded into Syria in 2013. On 8 April 2013, he announced the creation of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is still believed to be alive, even after the Iraqi military claimed that an airstrike had struck his convoy on 11 October 2015. Residents of the town of Karabla, and hospital sources told Reuters that Baghdadi was not among the dead, although eight senior ISIS figures had been killed in the Iraqi airstrike. Baghdadi's current location is unknown.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi who has survived a year of US-led airstrikes and multi-sided wars, is enemy number 1 in the fight against the Islamic State, and has a bounty of $10 million on his head.
In January 2016, the Iraqi military claimed that the Chief of ISIS's Military Council was killed in an air strike. In February 2016, Baghdadi resurfaced after 18 months, in a video showing him talking to children at a mosque. In June 2016, reports suggested that Baghdadi was killed in an air-strike by US forces; however, this was disproved and his whereabouts remained unknown since.
Reports have suggested that ISIS Chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been poisoned by an assassin and is gravely ill. According to media reports, an assassin poisoned the meals prepared for Baghdadi and three other commanders of ISIS at the Be'aaj district in northern Iraq's Nineveh province. An Iraqi news agency said the four "have been transferred to an unknown location under strict measures."
ISIS Chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi featured in an audio tape aired by the IS-affiliated Al-Furqan media, commanding his forces to "not retreat." Asking IS forces to intensify the battle Baghdadi added that, "holding your ground with honour is a thousand times easier than retreating in shame." The message also sought to quell rumors that Baghdadi had been poisoned.