- Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has reportedly been killed in air strike in Raqqa
- If confirmed it would be a huge blow to ISIS, as he leads the terror group
- It comes only days after a man supporting ISIS killed 49 people in Orlando
ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has reportedly been killed in a US air strike in Raqqa.
His death, reported by the respected Turkish daily Yenis Safak, would be a major blow for the jihadists and comes only days after 50 people were killed in an Orlando nightclub by a man pledging allegiance to ISIS.
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.
Baghdadi was born as Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim al-Badri, in 1971 in Samarra, Iraq, to a lower-middle class Sunni family.
His tribe claimed to be descended from the Prophet Muhammad.
As a youth Baghdadi was a meticulous observer of religious law and could recite the Koran from cover to cover.
He then rose from obscurity to lead the world’s most infamous and feared terror group, reviving the organisation’s fortunes as it launched its sickening offensive across Syria and Iraq.
But he still continues to shun the spotlight for an aura of mystery that adds to his appeal and his lack of public appearances means he still has a unprecedented $10million bounty on his head.
The situation is in direct contrast to the likes of Osama bin Laden, who regularly appeared in videos sprouting hate messages and was internationally known long before 9/11.
Oppositely, Baghdadi’s only appearance came during a slick propoganda video last summer, when he led a sermon in a mosque in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.
The video – which showed a man with a black and grey beard wearing a black robe and matching turban – came after the group captured Iraq’s second largest city, a terrifying moment which highlighted how quickly the terror group was gaining territory.
An Iraqi intelligence report indicates that Baghdadi – who it says has a PhD in Islamic studies and was a professor at Tikrit University – also married a second woman, with whom he had another son.
Baghdadi apparently joined the insurgency that erupted after the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, at one point spending time in a U.S military prison in the country’s south.
But he did not swear allegiance to the leader of the al-Qaeda network, Zawahiri, who had urged ISIS to focus on Iraq and leave Syria to al-Nusra.
Baghdadi and his fighters openly defied the al-Qaeda chief, leading some commentators to believe he now holds higher prestige among many Islamist militants.
As well as the uncertainty surrounding his true identity, his whereabouts are also unclear. Although there were reports he was in Raqqa in Syria, – the ISIS stronghold – those reports are unconfirmed.
In the past year, Baghdadi has been reported wounded multiple times. Last year there were two reports that Baghdadi had been wounded in air strikes, but they turned out to be inaccurate.
ISIS Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi also escaped death in December when US jets attacked a two-car convoy on the outskirts of Mosul. Let’s hope this time he really is dead.
UPDATE: US FORCES LOCATED Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi… PILOTS WERE NOT GIVEN THE GREEN LIGHT TO ENGAGE!!
(ANOTHER STAND DOWN ORDER)
RUSSIAN MILITARY INTERCEPTED MESSAGE AND GAVE IMMEDIATE CLEARANCE TO ENGAGE!!