The Islamic State’s caliph has been reported dead. But he has been 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 the Islamic State’s caliph al-Baghdadi dead (again)? June 17, 2016
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.
Of course, 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 has soldiered on without his having become a familiar media figure.
“ISIS Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Killed in Raqqa Air Strike,” by Constance Renton, Morocco World News, June 11, 2017:
Rabat – Major new sources have reported that the world’s most wanted terrorist, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi , was killed in a coalition air strike in Raqqa Saturday.
The reports are being met with a certain degree of skepticism, however, as this is not the first time the terror kingpin has been reported killed.
Syrian television published the initial report. It remains unconfirmed for now, as ISIS has not yet released a statement. Nor has there been any response from the US-led coalition force.
Raqqa 24, an organization of Syrina activists, have confirmed that airstrikes in Raqqa killed at least seven civilians but made no mention of Al-Baghdadi.
Born in Samarra, Iraq, in 1971, Al-Baghdadi joined the insurgency in 2003, which cropped up following the US-led invasion of Iraq. He went on to become the world’s most hunted terrorist, with a $25-million-dollar bounty on his head.
According to coalition intelligence, he had been in hiding in Mosul but escaped when the Coalition launched their main offensive in the city. It was thought that he had fled to Raqqa….