Russia’s Defence Ministry is investigating whether they have killed possibly the world’s most wanted man, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, among 330 other fighters in an airstrike on May 28. Al-Baghdadi’s death has yet to be verified and this also isn’t the first time a claim of al-Baghdadi’s demise has been made.
The claim comes after the Ministry said their airstrike targeted an IS military council meeting in their de-facto capital of Raqqa in northern Syria. The Russian state-funded Sputnik news agency first made the claim of the possibility of al-Baghdadi’s death when they published a statement by Russia’s defence ministry saying that he may have been present when the airstrike took out 30 IS commanders and up to 300 soldiers at the Raqqa meeting.
The Russian defence ministry’s statement claimed, “According to information that is checked through various channels, IS leader Ibrahim Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was killed as a result of the strike, was also present at the meeting,” although this information has yet to be confirmed. The airstrike was carried out following drone footage confirmed the location of the council’s meeting.
Al-Baghdadi has kept a low profile and his whereabouts has been unknown for quite some time, however, he was believed to have been in Mosul in Iraq before a US-led coalition began an effort to reclaim the city in October 2016. Since then the general consensus is that he had been hiding out in the desert. The last time he was seen in public was when he gave a sermon in Mosul that was filmed and shown around the world.
If al-Baghdadi has indeed ben killed, the news would not come as a surprise to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who in March said that almost all of al-Baghdadi’s deputies had been killed. “It is only a matter of time before Baghdadi himself meets this same fate,” he said at the time.
Al-Baghdadi has long been number one on the American hit list, with US authorities offering a reward of $25 million to anyone who could come up with information that would lead to his capture. If his death can be confirmed then the US has lost its main enemy and ISIS will have lost their leader, a huge step in the right direction for global safety.