Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the mysterious head behind Islamic State’s machinery
Little is known about Islamic State chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who is credited with transforming a breakaway al Qaeda faction into the dreaded terror group that has seized large swathes of land in Iraq and Syria.
Several Arabic-language and Iranian news sites reported on Monday that the lunch prepared for Baghdadi and three other IS leaders were allegedly poisoned in Nineveh’s Be’aaj district in Iraq. Citing a source, Iraqi news agency WAA said the four are suffering from “severe poisoning” and “have been transferred to an unknown location under strict measures”.
There are only a handful of passport-style photos and video appearances through which the bearded cleric has led one of the most bloody and visible insurgencies in recent years.
There have been several such reports in the past that Baghdadi, whose real name is Ibrahim al-Samarrai, was killed or wounded after proclaiming himself caliph of all Muslims two years ago. In March last year, Baghdadi was said to be seriously wounded and on the verge of death after a coalition airstrike.
Born in 1971 in Samarra, Iraq, to a lower-middle class Sunni family, Baghdadi’s movements are known only by his inner circle. The Caliph, as he is known to his followers, is constantly on the move, changing locations in Iraq and Syria to avoid airstrikes.
However, Baghdadi’s former wife has claimed he was a “family man” and an “ideal father” to his children before he became the chief of the dreaded terror group.
“I married a normal person, a university lecturer. He was a family man,” Saja al-Dulaimi told CNN Swedish affiliate Expressen TV in her first interview since her release from a Lebanese prison last year.
“He went to work and came home to his family. He was great. He was the children’s ideal father. The way he was with children...he was a teacher -- you know how teachers are. He knew how to deal with children, better than how to deal with the mother,” she was quoted as saying.
According to Dulaimi, Baghdadi was had a “mysterious personality” and the two did not talk much like others couples.
Dulaimi, who was born in Iraq to an upper-middle-class conservative family, said she ran away from Baghdadi after she became pregnant and he tried to get her back several times. They last spoke in 2009, Dulaimi said, when Baghdadi again tried to get her back.
Reports say Baghdadi has a reputation as a “highly organised and ruthless battlefield tactician” and rose through the ranks to establish himself as the leader of a global militant organisation. The ongoing wars in Syria and Iraq have now left tens of thousands dead and millions displaced, according to UN figures.
The US has issued a $10 million bounty on Baghdadi’s head.
(With inputs PTI and Reuters)