Washington: According to a recent report by Fox News, leaked Islamic State letters show that IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may be still alive and leading the global terror group.
Fox News reports:
Documents revealed this month by The Sunday Times showed that ISIS leadership had not only tasked members with “bringing in migrants” as a means to funnel finances and fighters from the crumpled “caliphate” in Syria into Europe and orchestrate attacks, but one letter in-particular among the document trove was specifically addressed to Baghdadi.
The December-dated letter, reportedly signed by six leaders, detailed the terrorist outfit’s blueprint for operations in the wake of lost territory – ranging from bank robberies to computer hacking to vehicle rammings. Another letter to Baghdadi late last year, signed by ISIS commander Abu Taher al-Tajiki, lays out an array of potential target sites for striking in Europe.
The letters underscore that not only is ISIS seemingly devoted to overseeing global attacks, but that its shadowy commander still pulls rank.
“The latest information is that he is still in the Syrian desert, and could not enter into the Iraqi side because of concerns about evading the security measures on the borders,” Sabah al Namaan, Baghdad’s spokesperson for the counter-terrorism agency, told Fox News late last month, stressing that finding the shadowy figure remains of critical importance due to the “symbolic significance” Baghdadi holds in governing the brutal terrorist outfit.
While talking to ITCT Newsdesk, ITCT Deputy Director Faran Jeffery said, “We do know that al-Baghdadi is still alive and hiding in a bunker somewhere around Syria-Iraq border region, or even somewhere in Turkey. We just don’t know for sure where. But he is out there, somewhere. There have been reports in the past about al-Baghdadi getting injured, but the consensus among IS watchers is that he survived those injuries and is still alive and in fact still running the group. He also started tightening his hold on the group around the time his caliphate was collapsing.”
To a question on whether he believes IS has been defeated, Jeffery said, “You can talk about defeating IS militarily, but even that would be largely inaccurate because IS franchises in Afghanistan and Africa are thriving. Ideologically, groups like IS will probably never be defeated. At least not in this century.”
While talking to the ITCT Newsdesk, ITCT Associate from Africa desk Jasmine Opperman said, “al-Baghdadi being alive remains extremely likely. If he was killed the West would have used it as indicative of Islamic State’s final defeat as killing Baghdadi is West’s ultimate yet shortsighted goal just like killing bin Laden proved to be. The Islamic State would have also run a propaganda campaign on al-Baghdadi as a martyr narrative against the infidels. al-Baghdadi as a leader now is also of far greater value than during the phase of the Caliphate. His background yet assertive leadership style is deterring internal schisms but more importantly ensuring a message of relentless commitment to its ideology. A message the Islamic State audience desperately needs. A message that negates attempts by AQ [al-Qaeda] in re-positioning itself as the leader of global Jihad.”
Baghdadi remains the world’s most wanted man, with the United States continuing to offer up to $25 million for information leading to his location. While most of his closest aides and confidantes have been slaughtered in the years of intense fighting, the leader is broadly believed to be alive, and continues to be a High Value Target (HVT) for the West and Western-backed local forces.