“ISIS have been accused of covering up the death of its talismanic leader in a desperate bid to prevent morale collapsing among its fighters.” Maybe the caliph is dead. But he has been severely wounded and/or dead before:
Several months later, after widespread reports that he had been killed in an airstrike: Islamic State caliph undead, calls for “volcanoes of jihad” November 13, 2014
Is he really dead this time? Maybe. His situation is odd in any case, whatever his condition: he claims to be the caliph, the source and summit of the appeal that the Islamic State has among young Muslims, and yet aside from his inaugural appearance when the Islamic State declared itself the caliphate on June 29, 2014, he has scarcely been in evidence, with the only signs of his existence being a couple of audiotapes. And his elusiveness may be calculated: the Islamic State leadership may have decided that the power of his appeal is enhanced by his being more mythical than real — an omnipresent but gnomic presence a la Big Brother in Orwell’s 1984. From a practical standpoint, since he has been so rarely seen or heard from, it hardly matters whether he is dead or alive: obviously the Islamic State soldiers on without his having become a familiar media figure.
If al-Baghdadi is indeed dead, it is odd for the group to cover up that fact. Al-Baghdadi has been so absent that by no stretch of the imagination is he anything akin to Chairman Mao — a presence so dominant that Chinese Communist leaders had reason to believe the state itself would be imperiled by the announcement of his demise. In this case, the death of al-Baghdadi could be used as an opportunity by the group to shore up its own claims. They say, after all, that they love death and are seeking martyrdom, so why not announce his death and hail him as a martyr? They could in that event also bolster their claim to be the caliphate by choosing a new caliph and announcing their determination to continue.
In light of that, it seems unlikely that he is really dead. Osama bin Laden, who never claimed to be the caliph, was widely thought to be dead when he made no public statements for a couple of years; then he resurfaced. Accordingly, it’s best to reserve judgment in this case.
“ISIS are accused of covering up the death of leader al-Baghdadi for fears the group’s morale is close to COLLAPSING following spate of defeats,” by Simon Tomlinson, MailOnline, June 16, 2016:
ISIS have been accused of covering up the death of its talismanic leader in a desperate bid to prevent morale collapsing among its fighters.
Reports circulating earlier this week said Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been killed in a U.S. air strike in the terror group’s Syrian stronghold of Raqqa.
His death would be a devastating blow for the jihadists at a time when they are losing swathes of territory and hundreds of millions of dollars in lost oil revenue in the face of coalition air strikes.
The Al-Hashd al-Shaabi militia, a group of Iraqi Shi’a paramilitary forces, said it was still trying to verify reports of al-Baghdadi’s death, it was reported by Iraqi News.
In a statement, it said: ‘ISIS is working to hide its leader’s death due to the sizable amount of loss that has been inflicted upon it in the recent past.
‘Some Arab and foreign media indicated to the injury of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, while other media confirmed his death in the Syrian city of al-Raqqa.
‘The intelligence of al-Hashd al-Shaabi is working to verify this information.’
ISIS are waging a desperate last stand to hold the city of Fallujah and are losing ground around its other Iraqi stronghold of Mosul as the Iraqi army backed by U.S.-led air strikes dent their territory.
The number of foreign fighters joining ISIS in Iraq and Syria has decreased sharply in the past year to about 200 a month from between 1,500 and 2,000.
And U.S. Air Force Major General Peter Gersten said last month that the number of fighters defecting from ISIS was increasing as well, but he did not give a specific number.
But there have previously been reports that al-Baghdadi, who proclaimed himself caliph of all Muslims two years ago, has been killed or wounded, which turned out to be untrue.
The Abna24 website said al-Baghdadi had been killed on Sunday morning by an air strike in Syria.
However, there has been no confirmation of his death by the US or any other coalition powers, who have been targeting the terror group in Syria and Iraq.
A Pentagon spokesman told MailOnline they were not aware of any ‘high value targets’ having been killed….