The self-appointed leader of ISIS, the rarely seen and deeply mysterious Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been confirmed dead by ISIS (aka Daesh).
This comes shortly after Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the defeat of ISIS in Iraq.
On the 16th of June, Russia stated that the ISIS leader was killed in a Russian airstrike near Raqqa, the self-proclaimed ISIS capital in Syria. Iran confirmed Russia’s statement shortly thereafter while the United States maintained that it had no information one whether Baghdadi was dead or alive.
Baghdadi’s last documented public appearance was at the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul from which Baghadadi proclaimed that ISIS was to be called “The Islamic State” and that he was its Caliph in 2014.
Far from marking the end of ISIS, this seems to be a watershed moment whereby ISIS will resign itself to fewer battle field engagements with better armed state and non-state groups and instead move into acts of sabotage and other forms of terrorism such as car bombs and IEDs.
Prior to that, a man widely believed to be Baghdadi was photographed with a smiling John McCain, the Republican US senator who has repeatedly called for regime change in Syria.
Some have claimed that Baghdadi was always just a semi-mythical figurehead, a man whose legend was widely invented as part of the sick mythological foundations of ISIS ideology.
The fact remains however that it is out of character for ISIS to admit such a loss whatever the material significance of it may be.