Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is reportedly alive and being treated in Syria for injuries sustained in an air raid, having temporarily relinquished control of the Islamic State terror group.
“We have irrefutable information and documents from sources within the terrorist organisation that al-Baghdadi is still alive and hiding,” the director general of Iraq’s intelligence and counterterrorism office, Abu Ali al-Basri, told Iraqi government-run newspaper Al-Sabah. The jihadist is believed to be in the desert on the Syrian side of the Syria–Iraq border northeast of Deir Ezzor province, Basri added.
Several US intelligence sources told CNN that Baghdadi – who has a $25m (£18m) bounty on his head – was wounded in an air strike near Raqqa, in northern Syria, last May, and relinquished control of the terror group for up to five months as a result. The US assessment is based on information from Isis detainees and refugees in the region, the news website adds.
Basri said Baghdadi had recently been hospitalised for his “deteriorating psychological state”, reports Kurdistan 24. The Isis leader also has “injuries, diabetes and fractures to the body and legs that prevent him from walking without assistance”, Basri added, according to Al Jazeera English.
Bagdadi – real name Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri al-Samarrai – tops a list released by Iraq last week of the most wanted Isis terrorist commanders, says Saudi-owned news broadcaster Al Arabiya English.
There were reports last year that Russia had killed the terrorist leader, who was last captured on camera in July 2014.