ABU Bakr al-Baghdadi has, for the longest time, been the most feared man. The latter has served a wanted Jihadist group, the ISIL or ISIS. The group is responsible for the numerous terror attacks in the war in Syria and Iraq. The attacks have left thousands of people dead, and most of them fleeing the country to seek refuge in neighbouring countries. The latter died after a raid by the US forces. Just when he was about to be captured, he blew himself up in a tunnel in the north-western parts of Syria.
For the past couple of years, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the ISIL or ISIS group, has been wanted because of the terror attacks that the group has instigated. The latter is said to be responsible for the thousands of lives that have been lost in the war in Syria. He is also the founder of IS, a group that subdued a territory of about 88,000 square kilometres. The group imposed ruthless leadership in the region that it led. You might want to know more about the leader and how he was taken down.
ABU Bakr al Baghdadi biography
ABU Bakr al Baghdadi age
His real name was Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim al-Badri even though he changed to ABU Bakr al Baghdadi. He was born in 1971. At the time of his death, he was forty-eight years old.
He was born and raised in Samarra, the central city of Iraq. He descended from the Sunni Arab family. His family claimed to trace its roots to the Quraysh; a tribe believed to be Prophet Muhammad's. According to the pre-modern Sunni, this qualified him to become a caliph.
During his early childhood days, he spent most of his time in the mosque. He showed great interest and passion in knowing the Koran. He would openly upbraid those that failed to observe the Islamic law popularly known as Sharia. Being the religious person that he was, his relatives would refer to him as 'The Believer.'
According to publications by his supporters, ABU Bakr al Baghdadi treasured Islamic education. As a result, he relocated to Baghdad in the early 1990s to pursue his bachelor's degree in Islamic studies. Upon completion, he enrolled for his masters and, later on, his PhD. He studied at the Islamic University of Baghdad.
During his life as a student, he used to live in Tobchi district in the North-western parts of Baghdad. Those who lived near him would describe him as a quiet man who always kept to himself during most of his times. The only time that people would hear him speak was when he was teaching Koranic recitation in the mosque. He also used to play football for the mosque's football club. There are speculations that during this time, Baghdadi used to embrace Jihadism and Salafism.
The arrest of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
In 2003, when the US troops set out on a mission to topple the government that was led by President Saddam Hussein, Baghdadi allegedly led the group that attacked the US army. According to the allegations, he was part of the group that founded the Jamaat Jaysh Ahl al-Sunnah wa-l-Jamaah: an Islamic insurgent group. Being part of the group, he was in charge of the Sharia committee department.
In 2004, during the operations of the Jamaat Jaysh Ahl al-Sunnah wa-l-Jamaah, Baghdadi was arrested and detained in Falluja, a city that is situated in the west of Baghdad. He was, later on, taken to Camp Bucca for detention.
Camp Bucca, Jihadism University
Camp Bucca, which would, later on, be described as the 'university" for the future leaders of IS, was the latter's home for the ten months that followed. The detention camp earned the title because this is where inmates were radicalised and given all forms of contacts and networks for the IS group.
While at the detention camp, Baghdadi is alleged to have maintained his religious nature and even led prayers and taught religious classes. Once in a while, he would be invited to solve disputes among the prison administrators. His character made the US troops believe that he was harmless, and ten months later, that warranted his release.
Upon his release, Baghdadi is alleged to have contacted the Al-Qaeda group that had just been formed in Iraq. The group, under the leadership of Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was responsible for several attacks in the country.
In 2006, the group came up with a jihadist organisation called Mujahideen Shura Council. Baghdadi and his group pledged their loyalty to the group.
A few months later, the US army caught up with the head of Al Qaeda and took him down. This prompted the group to consider rebranding and adopt the name Islamic State of Iraq (ISI). Baghdadi was in charge of overseeing the group's Sharia committees. He also became part of the Shura Council.
After the death of Zarqawi, Abu Umar al-Baghdadi took over the leadership of the group. He led the group for the four years that followed before he and his assistant were killed. Their death meant that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi would take over as the Al Qaeda leader as from 2010 henceforth.
Formation of ISIS
After three years of being the leader of Al Qaeda, the group became famous for the numerous attacks that it carried out in Iraq. It actively participated in the war against Syria's president. The move resulted in the Syrian militants return from Iraq to form the al-Nusra Front. The front was an affiliate of the Al Qaeda. The group also took advantage of this to gain access to weapons.
In April 2013, Baghdadi announced his decision concerning the group's forces in Syria and Iraq. The merge resulted in the birth of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS/ISIL). His decision was not supported by the other leaders of the Al Qaeda as well as those of the al-Nusra. Their conflict in interests, however, did not stop Baghdadi's loyal supporters from ensuring that ISIS existed in Syria.'
In June 2014, the ISIS carried out massive attacks in the Northern and Southern parts of Iraq. The attacks targeted the group's adversaries as well as the ethnic and religious minorities. The war culminated in the creation of a 'caliphate' which referred to a state that was being ruled according to the Sharia by a caliph. It changed its name to Islamic State and Baghdadi being its leader, referred to as Caliph Ibrahim. The group required that all Muslims in the world would pay their allegiance to the caliph and the state. A few days later, the group released a video of Baghdadi teaching in the Mosul's Great Mosque of al-Nuri. This was his first time to appear on camera publicly.
Among those that suffered the wrath of the ISIS was the Yazidi group, a religious group in Iraq. The group suffered genocide as well as beheading of the hostages from the western region. These crimes prompted the US government to launch air strikes in Syria to fight the attackers.
As part of the attacks, IS destroyed the archaeological sites in Syria. The UN cultural agency greatly condemned this move. The group also shared ISIS execution videos to prove to the world how uncouth its practices were. Baghdadi was also accused of regularly raping a lady that had been held as a hostage by the IS. He, later on, killed her. These crimes were revealed by Yazidi girls who had also been held hostages.
The defeat of IS
The crimes by the IS caused the intervention of the US coalition, which launched a series of air strikes that led the IS out of the area that it had brought under its control. The war that followed saw thousands of people dead and others fleeing the country. The Syrian Defence Force joined forces with the United States actions against ISIS. During these attacks, the one question that caused confusion was, is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi dead?
In June 2017, the Iraqi forces attacked Mosul and took down the last remaining troops of the IS. It was, thereafter, believed that Baghdad had been taken down.
In September that year, the IS released an audio message that declared that Baghdadi was still alive. In the message, he was calling upon his supporters to wage war against their enemies. The SDF, therefore went ahead to fight the supporters of IS in Raqqa.
In August 2018, Baghdadi issued another audio message urging his supporters in Syria to 'persevere'. This message prompted the SDF to launch another attack in eastern Syria to clear the IS from the country. During the attack, there were no reports to confirm that Baghdadi was among those that had been affected. It was, later on, established that he had fled to the western desert of Iraq after he had risked attempts of being ousted.
The end of Caliphate rule
In March 2019, the last area that was under the leadership of IS in Syria was captured. This marked the end of the caliphate rule by Baghdadi. President Donald Trump was among those that praised the success terming it as, 'the liberation of Syria.' He also urged the forces to be vigilant in case of any attacks.
Even there were hopes that the battle would have been successful, there still were fears that the IS had supporters in the region. The supporters were believed to have been armed and that they operated in sleeper cells. They had carried out a couple of attacks in Iraq aimed at causing lawlessness.
In April 2019, Baghdadi captured the attention of US forces in Syria when he shared a video of himself seated with his legs crossed and a firearm behind him. He also had three men standing beside him. The three men were armed and wore masks that covered their faces.
The battle of attrition
In the video, he mentioned about IS launching the battle of attrition, and then he urged his supporters to focus the attacks on the resources of their enemies. Even though it was difficult to determine the timestamp of the video, analysts were able to ascertain that Baghdadi was trying to communicate that he was still in power.
In September, he shared another audio that communicated that IS was planning on embarking on its daily operations. He also urged his supporters to work towards freeing the arrested members.
Withdrawal of US forces in Syria
In October, President Trump withdrew US troops from Syria, and this caused tension as it was alleged that that would create a vacuum in the country's security. During this time, 100 prisoners managed to get out of the sleeper cells and launched several attacks. This caused president Trump to receive criticism for his actions.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi dead
On 23rd October 2019, a special unit of the US forces raided a village in the north-western part of Syria. The raid targeted Baghdadi even though his location was a couple of kilometres from the village. In the course of the attack, President Donald Trump reported that Baghdadi had withdrawn into a tunnel with his three children. When police dogs were sent into the tunnel, he detonated an explosive and committed suicide alongside his three children. Even though the explosion had mutilated his body, the pieces were collected and tested, and the results of the DNA test proved his identity.
Announcing Baghdadi death, President Trump stated,
A brutal killer, one who has caused so much hardship and death, was violently eliminated - he will never again harm another innocent man, woman or child. He died like a dog. He died like a coward. The world is now a much safer place
The IS has, however, not come up to confirm the news about its leader's death.
ABU Bakr al-Baghdadi's successor
On the 28th of October, the Syrian forces announced that extra security was being enforced in the prisons where the IS supporters were withheld. This information came hours after the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights based in British announced the death of Al-Muhajir who was believed to be Baghdadi's successor. Al-Muhajir had assumed the position of the spokesperson after his predecessor had been murdered in the airstrike that had taken place that year.
Does the death of ABU Bakr al-Baghdadi and his successor mean that the attacks by the ISIL or ISIS group have been contained? Does it also mark to the end of the war that has been going on in Syria for the past couple of years? Only time will tell.