|Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi|
A mugshot photo of Baghdadi detained at Camp Bucca, Iraq, 2004
Caliph of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
April, 2013 – October 27, 2019
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi|
2nd Emir of the Islamic State of Iraq
April 18, 2010 – April 7, 2013
|Preceded by||Abu Omar al-Baghdadi|
|Succeeded by||Position abolished|
|Born||28 July 1971
Samarra, Saladin Governorate, Iraq
|Died||27 October 2019 (aged 48)
Barisha, Idlib Governorate, Syria
Abū Bakr al-Baghdadi al-Qurayshi (Arabic: أبو بكر البغدادي; born Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri al-Samarrai, إبراهيم عواد إبراهيم علي محمد البدري السامرائي; July 28, 1971 – October 27, 2019 was the Iraqi-born leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The group has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United Nations, as well as by the European Union and many individual states, while Baghdadi was considered a Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the United States until his death in October 2019. In June 2014, he was chosen caliph of ISIL by the Shura Council, who were representing those members of the Islamic State qualified to elect a caliph.
Baghdadi rose to prominence in ISIL after his detainment in 2004 with Al Qaeda commanders at the American Camp Bucca in Iraq. Many of the details of his life are unknown, contested, or perhaps even the result of myth-making to increase his revolutionary profile. He was characterized by some as an obscure figure, or a religious scholar. Baghdadi appears nonetheless to be directly involved in ISIL's atrocities and human rights violations. These include the genocide of Yazidis in Iraq, extensive sexual slavery, organized rape, floggings, and systematic executions. He directed terrorist activities and massacres. He embraced brutality as part of the organization's propaganda efforts, producing videos displaying sexual slavery and executions via hacking, stoning, and burning. It is believed that al-Baghdadi himself was a rapist who kept several personal sex slaves.
In 2011 the U.S. State Department offered a US$10 million reward for information or intelligence leading to his capture, dead or alive. They increased it to $25 million in 2017  Under assault by the Trump Administration, by March 2019 ISIL had lost most of its territory in its former core areas in Syria and Iraq, and was reduced to a desert pocket as well as insurgent cells. The hunt for al-Baghdadi continued until October 27, 2019 when he killed himself by detonating a suicide vest during the Barisha raid conducted by the U.S. 75th Ranger Regiment and the U.S. Delta Force in Syria's northwestern Idlib Province. The commander of the United States Central Command, General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., stated that al-Baghdadi also killed two children when he exploded his vest and was buried at sea after being offered Islamic funeral rites.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is a nom de guerre. He had various names and epithets, including Abu Du'a (أبو دعاء ʾabū duʿāʾ), Al-Shabah (the phantom or ghost), Amir al-Mu'minin, Caliph (sometimes followed by Abu Bakr, al-Baghdadi, or Ibrahim), and Sheikh Baghdadi. Other aliases used by al-Badri include Faerlan Ramsey and Dr. Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri al-Samarrai. In 2018, Reuters reported that his real name was Ibrahim al-Samarrai. In 2014, the Telegraph reported his birthname was Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim al-Badri. The word duaa signifies supplications, invocations, or prayers. His surname literally means "The one from Baghdad" and denotes that he was from Baghdad city or Baghdad governorate in Iraq.
The kunya Abū, corresponds to the English, father of. Having at sometime taken the name Abu Bakr, al-Baghdadi is thought to have adopted the name of the first caliph, Abu Bakr. During the times when Muhammad might have suffered from illnesses, Abu Bakr was the replacement for leading prayer, according to the Sunni tradition of Islam.
Al-Baghdadi is believed to have been born near Samarra, Iraq, on July 28, 1971 as the third of four sons in the family. Al-Badri al-Samarrai was apparently born as a member of the tribal group known as Al-Bu Badri tribe. This tribe includes a number of sub-tribes, including the Radhawiyyah, Husseiniyyah, Adnaniyyah, and Quraysh. Al-Baghdadi later claimed that he was descended from the Quraysh tribe and therefore from Muhammad, although there was no evidence to back up his claim.
According to a short semi-authorized biography written by Abid Humam al-Athari, his grandfather, Haj Ibrahim Ali al-Badri, apparently lived until the age of 94 and witnessed the US occupation of Iraq. His father, Sheikh Awwad, was active in the religious life of the community. Awwad taught the teenaged Baghdadi and got his own start as a teacher, leading children in the neighborhood chanting the Quran. Both his father and grandfather were said to be farmers. His mother, whose name is not known, was described as a religious, loving person and was notable in the al-Badri tribe. One of Baghdadi's uncles served in Saddam Hussein's security services, and one of his brothers became an officer in the Iraqi Army. He had another brother, who probably died either during the Iran–Iraq War or the Gulf War while serving in the Iraqi military. Not much is known about his brothers and sisters. Al-Monitor, based on an interview with Abu Ahmad who claimed to have known al-Baghdadi since the 1990s, reported that al-Baghdadi's brothers are named Shamsi, Jomaa, and Ahmad.
Jomaa is reported to have been the closest to him and is also said to have been his bodyguard. Shamsi and al-Baghdadi were reported to have a dispute over Baghdadi's decision to join the insurgency in Iraq. The former was reported to be under the custody of Iraqi authorities and suffering from severe health issues. Personal information on Ahmad is scarce other than his money problems.
In an interview with The National, anonymous Iraqi intelligence agents claimed that Baghdadi's brother Jumah acted as a courier, delivering messages between him and ISIL militants in Turkey. A Western intelligence agent stated that they didn't apprehend him so that he could lead them to Baghdadi. According to Iraqi officials in interview with The Guardian, the wives of Juma as well as his brother Ahmad were smuggled out to Turkey through Idlib province.
Reuters, quoting tribal sources in Iraq, reported Baghdadi had three wives, two Iraqis and one Syrian. The Iraqi Interior Ministry said that al-Baghdadi had two wives, Asma Fawzi Mohammed al-Dulaimi (sometimes referred to as "Al-Qubaysi" or "al-Kubaysi") and Israa Rajab Mahal Al-Qaisi. However, in 2016 Fox News reported, based on local media, that Saja al-Dulaimi was al-Baghdadi's most powerful wife.
Al-Baghdadi's son Hudhayfah al-Badri was killed in action in 2018 during the Syrian Civil War while taking part in an Inghimasi-style attack on the Syrian Army and Russian forces in Homs Governorate. A girl named Hagar born in 2008, who was detained in Lebanon in 2014 with her mother Saja al-Dulaimi, is allegedly al-Baghdadi's daughter.
During the Barisha raid, three of Baghdadi's children died with him in a dead-end tunnel after he detonated his vest, according to President Donald Trump. General Frank McKenzie however later said only two children had died.
Like much in his life, there are differing accounts of his education. Official education records from Samarra High School revealed that al-Baghdadi had to retake his high school certificate in 1991 and scored 481 out of 600 possible points. A few months later, he was deemed unfit for military service by the Iraqi military due to his nearsightedness. His high-school grades were not good enough for him to study his preferred subject (law, educational science and languages) at the University of Baghdad. Instead, it is believed that he attended the Islamic University of Baghdad, now known as Iraqi University, where he studied Islamic law and, later, the Quran.
In 2014, American and Iraqi intelligence analysts said that al-Baghdadi had a doctorate for Islamic studies in Quranic studies from Saddam University in Baghdad. According to a biography that circulated on extremist internet forums in July 2013, he obtained a BA, MA, and PhD in Islamic studies from the Islamic University of Baghdad. Another report says that he earned a doctorate in education from the University of Baghdad. He may have been a mosque cleric around the time of the US-led invasion in 2003.
His origins as an Islamic revolutionary is no clearer than the details of his family life. Some believe that al-Baghdadi became an Islamic revolutionary during the rule of Saddam Hussein, but other reports suggest he was radicalized by joining the Muslim Brotherhood as a youth, followed by his later internment with Al Qaeda commanders at the US Camp Bucca.
Al-Baghdadi was arrested by US Forces-Iraq in early February 2004 near Fallujah while visiting the home of his old student friend, Nessayif Numan Nessayif, who was also on the American wanted list at the time and studied together with al-Baghdadi at the Islamic University. He was detained at the Abu Ghraib and Camp Bucca detention centers under his name Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim al-Badry as a "civilian internee." His detainee card gives his profession as "administrative work (secretary)." The US Department of Defense said al-Baghdadi was imprisoned at Compound 6, which was a medium security Sunni compound. On 8 December 2004, he was released as a prisoner deemed "low level" after he was recommended for release by the Combined Review and Release Board.
Al-Baghdadi and his group Jamaat Jaysh Ahl al-Sunnah wa-l-Jamaah joined the Mujahideen Shura Council (MSC) in 2006, in which he served as a member of the MSC's sharia committee. Following the renaming of the MSC as the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) in 2006, al-Baghdadi became the general supervisor of the ISI's sharia committee and a member of the group's senior consultative council.
Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), also known as al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), was the Iraqi division of al-Qaeda. Al-Baghdadi was announced as leader of ISI on May 16, 2010, following the death of his predecessor Abu Omar al-Baghdadi.
As leader of ISI, al-Baghdadi was responsible for masterminding large-scale operations such as the August 28, 2011 suicide bombing]] at the Umm al-Qura Mosque in Baghdad, which killed prominent Sunni lawmaker Khalid al-Fahdawi. Between March and April 2011, ISI claimed 23 attacks south of Baghdad, all allegedly carried out under al-Baghdadi's command.
Following the death of the founder and head of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, on May 2,2011, in Abbottabad, Pakistan, al-Baghdadi released a statement praising bin Laden and threatening violent retaliation for his death. On May 5, 2011, al-Baghdadi claimed responsibility for an attack in Hilla, 100 kilometers (62 mi) south of Baghdad, that killed 24 policemen and wounded 72 others.
On August 15, 2011, a wave of ISI suicide attacks beginning in Mosul resulted in 70 deaths. Shortly thereafter, in retaliation for bin Laden's death, ISI pledged on its website to carry out 100 attacks across Iraq featuring various methods of attack, including raids, suicide attacks, roadside bombs and small arms attacks in all cities and rural areas across the country.
On December 22, 2011, a series of coordinated car bombings and IED (improvised explosive device) attacks struck over a dozen neighborhoods across Baghdad, killing at least 63 people and wounding 180. The assault came just days after the US completed its troop withdrawal from Iraq. On December 26, ISI released a statement on jihadist internet forums claiming credit for the operation, stating that the targets of the Baghdad attack were "accurately surveyed and explored" and that the "operations were distributed between targeting security headquarters, military patrols and gatherings of the filthy ones of the al-Dajjal Army (the "Army of the Anti-Christ" in Arabic)," referring to the Mahdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr.
On December 2, 2012, Iraqi officials claimed that they had captured al-Baghdadi in Baghdad, following a two-month tracking operation. Officials claimed that they had also seized a list containing the names and locations of other al-Qaeda operatives. However, this claim was rejected by ISI. In an interview with Al Jazeera on December 7, 2012, Iraq's Acting Interior Minister said that the arrested man was not al-Baghdadi, but rather a sectional commander in charge of an area stretching from the northern outskirts of Baghdad to Taji.
Al-Baghdadi remained leader of the ISI until its formal expansion into Syria in 2013 when, in a statement on April 8, 2013, he announced the formation of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – alternatively translated from Arabic as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
When announcing the formation of ISIL, al-Baghdadi stated that the Syrian Civil War jihadist faction, Jabhat al-Nusra – also known as al-Nusra Front – had been an extension of the ISI in Syria and was now to be merged with ISIL. The leader of Jabhat al-Nusra, Abu Mohammad al-Julani, disputed this merging of the two groups and appealed to al-Qaeda emir Ayman al-Zawahiri, who issued a statement that ISIL should be abolished and that al-Baghdadi should confine his group's activities to Iraq. Al-Baghdadi, however, dismissed al-Zawahiri's ruling and took control of a reported 80% of Jabhat al-Nusra's foreign fighters. In January 2014, ISIL expelled Jabhat al-Nusra from the Syrian city of Raqqa, and in the same month clashes between the two in Syria's Deir ez-Zor Governorate killed hundreds of fighters and displaced tens of thousands of civilians. In February 2014, al-Qaeda disavowed any relations with ISIL.
According to several Western sources, al-Baghdadi and ISIL received private financing from citizens in Saudi Arabia and Qatar and enlisted fighters through recruitment drives in Saudi Arabia in particular.
On June 29, 2014, ISIL announced the establishment of a worldwide caliphate. Al-Baghdadi was named its caliph, to be known as "Caliph Ibrahim," and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant was renamed the Islamic State (IS).
The declaration of a caliphate was heavily criticized by Middle Eastern governments, other jihadist groups, and Sunni Muslim theologians and historians. Qatar-based TV broadcaster and theologian Yusuf al-Qaradawi stated: "[The] declaration issued by the Islamic State is void under sharia and has dangerous consequences for the Sunnis in Iraq and for the revolt in Syria," adding that the title of caliph can "only be given by the entire Muslim nation," not by a single group.
As a caliph, al-Baghdadi was required to hold to each dictate of the sunnah, whose precedence is set and recorded in the sahih hadiths. According to tradition, if a caliph fails to meet any of these obligations at any period, he is required by the law to abdicate his position. The community is then to appoint a new caliph selected from throughout the caliphate. He should be the most religiously and spiritually pious individual among them.
In an audio-taped message, al-Baghdadi announced that ISIL would march on "Rome" – generally interpreted to mean the West – in its quest to establish an Islamic State from the Middle East across Europe. He said that he would conquer both Rome and Spain in this endeavor and urged Muslims across the world to immigrate to the new Islamic State.
On November 5, 2014, al-Baghdadi sent a message to al-Qaeda Emir Ayman al-Zawahiri requesting him to swear allegiance to him as caliph, in return for a position in the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The source of this information was a senior Taliban intelligence officer. Al-Zawahiri did not reply, and instead reassured the Taliban of his loyalty to Mullah Omar.
Al-Baghdadi's first recorded public appearance was July 4, 2014. A video, made during the first Friday prayer service of Ramadan, shows al-Baghdadi speaking on a pulpit in the Arabic language to a congregation at the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul, northern Iraq. In the video, al-Baghdadi declares himself caliph of the Islamic State and calls on Muslims worldwide to support him. A representative of the Iraqi government denied that the video was of al-Baghdadi, calling it a "farce." However, both the BBC and the Associated Press quoted unnamed Iraqi officials as saying that the man in the video was believed to be al-Baghdadi.
From 2014 until shortly before his death in October 2019, sporadic messages were released spurring Muslims to jihad and threatening the West. On 16 September 2019 his final message called for his followers to free detained ISIS members and their families held in camps in Iraq and Syria, such as Shamima Begum. It was recorded and distributed by Al Furqan Establishment for Media Production.
Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi was designated by the United States Department of State as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. The US Department of State's Rewards for Justice Program identified Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as a senior leader of the terrorist organization Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and as having been "responsible for the deaths of thousands of civilians in the Middle East, including the brutal murder of numerous civilian hostages from Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States." Authorities within the United States had also accused al-Baghdadi of kidnapping, enslaving, and repeatedly raping an American, Kayla Mueller, who ISIL later alleged was killed in a Jordanian airstrike but is believed to have been executed by ISIL.
Al-Baghdadi became the top target in the war against ISIL. US Intelligence believed that he was based in Raqqa and that he kept a low profile, hiding among the civilian population. Until summer 2017, ISIL was believed to be headquartered in a series of buildings in Raqqa, but the proximity of civilians made targeting the headquarters off limits under US rules of engagement. Photos of a possible public appearance in a Fallujah mosque surfaced in February 2016.
Haider al-Abadi was reported (Ensor, 7 February 2017) to have stated he knew of the location of al-Baghdadi. Colonel John Dorrian, of the Combined Joint Task Force, stated he was aware of al-Baghdadi having chosen to sleep in a suicide vest, in the event he should find himself facing capture.
In 2018, Iraqi intelligence officials and a number of experts believed that al-Baghdadi was hiding in ISIL's then-de facto capital of Hajin, in ISIL's Middle Euphrates Valley Pocket in Syria. Even though no direct evidence has yet been found that al-Baghdadi himself was present in the city, experts noted that the remaining ISIL leadership was concentrated in Hajin, and that ISIL was persistently launching a strenuous defense. Hajin was captured by the Syrian Democratic Forces on 14 December 2018, but al-Baghdadi's whereabouts were still unknown.
On February 1, 2019, the chief of the Intelligence Office of Iraq's Interior Ministry, Abu Ali Al-Basri, stated that al-Baghdadi never stayed in one place at a time as he continued to sneak back-and-forth across the Iraq-Syria border. "We have information that he moved from Syria and entered Iraq through Anbar and then Salaheddine," Al-Basri said. Additionally, Fadhel Abu Rageef, a Baghdad-based political and security analyst, told Fox News that Baghdadi maneuvered without convoys or any attention-drawing security figures, and was instead only flanked by a couple of trusted loyalists – and neither he nor his associates had mobile phones or detectable devices. "We think Baghdadi is in the Syrian desert at large, wearing modern clothes, no mobiles, a simple car, and just a driver. Anyone around him is dressed in modern clothes," Rageef said.
Baghdadi's brother-in-law Mohamad Ali Sajit on an interview with Al Arabiya described him as a "nervous wreck" during the last months of his life, suspecting ISIL governors of betrayal. He stated that he met Baghdadi for the first time in Hajin in late 2017 and the final time in the desert located along Iraq-Syria border. Per him, Baghdadi only traveled with five to seven confidantes which included: Abul-Hasan al-Muhajir, his security head Abu Sabah, al-Zubaie who was killed in March 2019 and ISIL's former wali of Iraq called Tayseer, alias Abu al-Hakim. Sajit stated that while in hiding, he always kept a suicide vest with him and also ordered others to do the same, sometimes disguised himself as a shepherd and only al-Muhajir used a mobile phone. Once, they hid Baghdadi in a pit to save him from a possible raid along the Iraq-Syria border. Baghdadi's diabetes had worsened due to constantly trying to evade capture per Sajit and he didn't fast during Ramadan, nor let his associates fast.
Multiple unconfirmed reports had him either severely wounded or dead until August 23, 2018 when Al-Furqan, an ISIL media outlet, released an audio statement "Glad Tidings to the Steadfast" on the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice). The statement was made by Baghdadi, ending the speculation about his purported death. On 29 April 2019: A video emerged of Baghdadi on ISIS's media network Al Furqan praising the perpetrators of the 2019 Sri Lanka Easter bombings.
On October 26, 2019, US Joint Special Operations Command's (JSOC) 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (SFOD-D), commonly known as Delta Force, conducted a raid through air space controlled by Russia and Turkey into the rebel-held Idlib province of Syria on the border with Turkey to capture al-Baghdadi. US President Donald Trump and his officials stated that while being hunted by American military canines and after being cornered in a tunnel, al-Baghdadi died by self-detonating a suicide vest, killing three young children, reportedly his own, as well. The commander of US Central Command, Gen. Frank McKenzie, later revised the number of children killed to two. It was reported that two of Baghdadi's wives were also killed, wearing suicide vests that had not detonated. This was confirmed by United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The raid was launched based on a CIA Special Activities Division's intelligence effort that located the leader of ISIS. This operation was conducted during the withdrawal of US forces from northeast Syria.
President Trump announced on October 27, 2019 that American forces used helicopters, jets and drones through airspace controlled by Russia and Turkey. The Turkish Defense Ministry confirmed on 27 October that Turkish and US military authorities exchanged and coordinated information ahead of an attack in Syria's Idlib. DNA profiling was done immediately, confirming his identity.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark A. Milley, said during a Pentagon briefing that "the disposal of his [al-Baghdadi's] remains has been done and is complete and was handled appropriately," initially adding that Washington had no plans to release images of his death, but later revealed footage of the raid during a briefing on October 30. Baghdadi was buried at sea and afforded Islamic rites, according to three anonymous U.S. officials and General Frank McKenzie.
In September 2019, a statement attributed to ISIL's propaganda arm, the Amaq news agency, claimed that Abdullah Qardash was named as al-Baghdadi's successor. Analysts dismissed this statement as a fabrication, and relatives were reported as saying that Qardash died in 2017. Rita Katz, a terrorism analyst and the co-founder of SITE Intelligence, noted that the alleged statement used a different font when compared to other statements and it was never distributed on Amaq or ISIL channels. Two other individuals, the Saudi Abu Saleh al-Juzrawi and the Tunisian Abu Othman al-Tunsi, were also named as possible candidates to succeed al-Baghdadi, who were close to Baghdadi and are believed to have been present in his last video appearance.
On October 29, 2019, Trump stated on social media that al-Baghdadi's "number one replacement" had been killed by American forces, adding: "Most likely would have taken the top spot - Now he is also Dead!" While Trump did not specify a name, a U.S. official later confirmed that Trump was referring to ISIL spokesman and senior leader Abul-Hasan al-Muhajir, who was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Syria two days earlier. On October 31 an IS outlet on Telegram named Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi as Baghdadi's successor.
In many respects al-Baghdadi remains an enigma. He is described by colleagues as secretive and reserved. In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, contemporaries of al-Baghdadi describe him in his youth as being shy, unimpressive, a religious scholar, and a man who eschewed violence. For more than a decade, until 2004, he lived in a room attached to a small local mosque in Tobchi, a poor neighborhood on the western fringes of Baghdad, inhabited by both Shia and Sunni Muslims.
Ahmed al-Dabash, the leader of the Islamic Army of Iraq and a contemporary of al-Baghdadi who fought against the allied invasion in 2003, gave a description of al-Baghdadi that matched that of the Tobchi residents:
I was with Baghdadi at the Islamic University. We studied the same course, but he wasn't a friend. He was quiet, and retiring. He spent time alone ... I used to know all the leaders (of the insurgency) personally. Zarqawi (the former leader of al-Qaeda) was closer than a brother to me ... But I didn't know Baghdadi. He was insignificant. He used to lead prayer in a mosque near my area. No one really noticed him.
Mostly unrecognized, even in his own organization, Baghdadi was known to be nicknamed at some time about 2015, as "the invisible sheikh." Like many details of his life, this analysis may be accurate, but it may also be a well-crafted persona. "They [the US and Iraqi Governments] know physically who this guy is, but his backstory is just myth," said Patrick Skinner of the Soufan Group, a security consulting firm. "He's managed this secret persona extremely well, and it's enhanced his group's prestige," said Patrick Johnston of the RAND Corporation, adding, "Young people are really attracted to that."
Any account of Baghdadi's life must take account of the fact that Baghdadi was a serial rapist, having maintained "a number of personal sex slaves." On August 14, 2015, it was reported that he allegedly claimed, as his "wife," American hostage Kayla Mueller and raped her repeatedly. Mueller was later alleged by an ISIL media account to have been killed in an airstrike by anti-ISIL forces in February 2015. However, a former sex slave has claimed that Mueller was murdered by ISIL.
After the U. S. led military victory over ISIL, President Trump declared victory in December 2018. The fate of ISIL itself may not be completely decided, however, as a campaign of insurgency remains an option and it could reconstitute in the future under new leadership.
All links retrieved December 9, 2019
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