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ISIS leader Al-Baghdadi ‘severely injured’ by Russian air strike sources say

Reports by US and Iraqi officials apparently confirm Moscow’s claims that Russian air strike successfully targeted ISIS leader

Alexander Mercouris

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Back in June last year the Russian Ministry of Defence published a claim that a meeting of ISIS commanders in May in the then besieged ISIS ‘capital’ of Raqqa included no less a person than ISIS’s leader – Ibrahim Abu-Bakr Al-Baghdadi – himself.

The meeting was apparently called to plan the escape of ISIS’s top leaders from Raqqa.  Of these the most important obviously is Al-Baghdadi himself, which was presumably why he attended the meeting.

Russian intelligence apparently got wind of the meeting, and the building in Raqqa where it took place was destroyed in an air strike carried out by a Russian SU-34 fighter bomber belonging to the Russian Aerospace Forces.

The Russians subsequently claimed that Al-Baghdadi himself was killed in the air strike along with a number of other top ISIS officials.

The claim received corroboration from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, but it was refuted by US and Iraqi officials, and I myself expressed skepticism about it on the grounds that Al-Baghdadi’s pivotal role in ISIS as its erstwhile “Caliph” meant his death would be expected to have  a more visible effect on the organisation than appeared to be the case.

Subsequently in September 2017 a recording of Al-Baghdadi speaking was released by ISIS, in which he discussed events which had taken place after the Russian air strike and his reported death, which confirmed that he was still alive and which showed that the Russian claim that he was dead was wrong.

Recent reports however suggest that parts of the claim made by the Russians in June may have been true after all.

US and Iraqi sources now suggest that Al-Baghdadi was indeed caught up in an air strike in Raqqa in May – just as the Russians claim – and that he was severely injured as a result of that air strike, though he was not actually killed.

Supposedly Al-Baghdadi’s injuries were so severe that he had to surrender operational control of ISIS to his subordinates for five months.

Though the latest reports were broken by CNN, the clearest written account of them has been provided by The Times of London

The leader of Islamic State’s so-called “caliphate”, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is alive but so seriously injured by an airstrike last year that he was unable to run the organisation for five months, according to new reports.

American and Iraqi officials quoted by Iraqi media and CNN said Baghdadi was seriously injured in May last year. They said the information was gleaned from Isis captives currently being interrogated after being captured as the “caliphate” began to collapse.

“We have irrefutable information and documents from sources within the terrorist organisation that Baghdadi is still alive and hiding,” said Abu Ali al-Basri, head of the Iraqi interior ministry’s intelligence and counter-terrorism department…..

In June last year, Russia and the Syrian regime said they thought he had been killed in a Russian air strike on May 28. American officials at the time said they had no evidence to corroborate the report, and the Russians never released the source of their information.

The new information, which seems to have caught US officials by surprise, raises the possibility that the Russian strike did at least hit the target. However, in confirming the story to CNN, they said it was still unclear when and by whom Baghdadi had been hit….

The officials said he had been badly enough injured to have to give up daily operational control of the organisation. However, he had now recovered to some extent, they believe.

The Iraqi officials said he had been treated in a hospital facility in area under Isis control. Mr Basri said he was unable to walk without assistance, had several broken bones and was additionally suffering from diabetes……

There is an outside possibility – if this story is true – that the air strike that injured Al-Baghdadi was not the Russian air strike which took place on 28th May 2017 but a different air strike carried out by someone else.

Given however that the Russians claim that Al-Baghdadi was caught up in their air strike on 28th May 2017, and given the confirmation that the air strike which wounded Al-Baghdadi took place in May 2017 – the same month as the Russian air strike – the overwhelming likelihood must be that it was indeed the Russian air strike in which Al-Baghdadi was caught up and which so severely injured him.

If so then that might explain some of the confusion in the initial reports coming out of the Middle East following the Russian claim.

As I discussed in this article, reports from several different sources – not just the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights – appeared to confirm in the weeks following the Russian claim that Al-Baghdadi was dead.

After Al-Baghdadi resurfaced in September I speculated that these reports were a false trail intentionally laid by ISIS to facilitate Al-Baghdadi’s escape from Mosul or Raqqa or wherever else he had been hiding.

The latest reports about the injuries he suffered as a result of the Russian air strike suggest that the true reason they spread was because his injuries were so severe that they sparked for a time rumours that he was dead.

In that case the broadcast in September was intended to reassure his followers that he was in fact alive.

If these latest reports are true – and it seems likely that they are true – then they show that the Russians do indeed have access to intelligence from the very heart of ISIS’s organisation.

Not only did the Russians learn about the meeting in Raqqa in advance so that they were able to carry out an air strike against it, but their intelligence operation against ISIS is apparently good enough to enable them to learn correctly who was present at the meeting and to establish that Al-Baghdadi himself was one of those present and was caught up in the air strike.

The fact that the Russians mistakenly thought that Al-Baghdadi had actually been killed does not detract from this success, especially given the confusion within ISIS itself in the weeks which followed about whether Al-Baghdadi was in fact alive or dead.

Al-Bagdhadi’s incapacity may also have played a part in the sudden collapse in ISIS resistance in eastern and central Syria during the period from May to November.  His apparent recovery since November may also in part explain the small recovery in ISIS’s fortunes which has taken place since November.

However the most interesting – and worrying – part of The Times of London report is the following one

“We have irrefutable information and documents from sources within the terrorist organisation that Baghdadi is still alive and hiding,” said Abu Ali al-Basri, head of the Iraqi interior ministry’s intelligence and counter-terrorism department.

He said Baghdadi was hiding in the Jazeera region, a desert area of the central Euphrates Valley in eastern Syria close to the Iraqi border. It is one of three enclaves in Syria still controlled by Isis, though it is entirely surrounded by Iraqi government-controlled territory on one side and fighters from the Kurdish-led, US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces on the other.

(bold italics added)

If Al-Baghdadi’s hideout is totally surrounded by US backed forces – the Iraqi army in the east, the US backed Syrian Kurdish fighters in the west – why is nothing apparently being done to track him down and capture him?  Surely that ought to be the priority?

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EU leaders dictate Brexit terms to Theresa May (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 115.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss how EU leaders have agreed on a plan to delay the the Article 50 process which effectively postpones Brexit beyond the 29 March deadline.

The UK will now be offered a delay until the 22nd of May, only if MPs approve Theresa May’s withdrawal deal next week. If MPs do not approve May’s negotiated deal, then the EU will support a short delay until the 12th of April, allowing the UK extra time to get the deal passed or to “indicate a way forward”.

UK PM Theresa May said there was now a “clear choice” facing MPs, who could vote for a third time on her deal next week.

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Theresa May outlines four Brexit options, via Politico

In a letter to MPs, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May set out the four options she believes the country has in light of Thursday’s decision by EU leaders to extend the Brexit deadline beyond next Friday.

The U.K. is faced with a four-way choice, May wrote late Friday.

The government could revoke Article 50 — which May called a betrayal of the Brexit vote; leave without a deal on April 12; pass her deal in a vote next week; or, “if it appears that there is not sufficient support” for a vote on her deal in parliament next week or if it is rejected for a third time, she could ask for an extension beyond April 12.

But this would require for the U.K. taking part in European elections in May, which the prime minister said “would be wrong.”

May wrote that she’s hoping for the deal to pass, allowing the U.K. to leave the EU “in an orderly way,” adding “I still believe there is a majority in the House for that course of action.”

“I hope we can all agree that we are now at the moment of decision,” she wrote.

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US media suffers panic attack after Mueller fails to deliver on much-anticipated Trump indictment

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom said it all: “Mueller – The name that ended all mainstream media credibility.”

RT

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Via RT


Important pundits and news networks have served up an impressive display of denials, evasions and on-air strokes after learning that Robert Mueller has ended his probe without issuing a single collusion-related indictment.

The Special Counsel delivered his final report to Attorney General William Barr for review on Friday, with the Justice Department confirming that there will be no further indictments related to the probe. The news dealt a devastating blow to the sensational prophesies of journalists, analysts and entire news networks, who for nearly two years reported ad nauseam that President Donald Trump and his inner circle were just days away from being carted off to prison for conspiring with the Kremlin to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Showing true integrity, journalists and television anchors took to Twitter and the airwaves on Friday night to acknowledge that the media severely misreported Donald Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, as well as what Mueller’s probe was likely to find. They are, after all, true professionals.

“How could they let Trump off the hook?” an inconsolable Chris Matthews asked NBC reporter Ken Dilanian during a segment on CNN’s ‘Hardball’.

Dilanian tried to comfort the CNN host with some of his signature NBC punditry.

“My only conclusion is that the president transmitted to Mueller that he would take the Fifth. He would never talk to him and therefore, Mueller decided it wasn’t worth the subpoena fight,” he expertly mused.

Actually, there were several Serious Journalists who used their unsurpassed analytical abilities to conjure up a reason why Mueller didn’t throw the book at Trump, even though the president is clearly a Putin puppet.

“It’s certainly possible that Trump may emerge from this better than many anticipated. However! Consensus has been that Mueller would follow DOJ rules and not indict a sitting president. I.e. it’s also possible his report could be very bad for Trump, despite ‘no more indictments,'” concluded Mark Follman, national affairs editor at Mother Jones, who presumably, and very sadly, was not being facetious.

Revered news organs were quick to artfully modify their expectations regarding Mueller’s findings.

“What is collusion and why is Robert Mueller unlikely to mention it in his report on Trump and Russia?” a Newsweek headline asked following Friday’s tragic announcement.

Three months earlier, Newsweek had meticulously documented all the terrible “collusion” committed by Donald Trump and his inner circle.

But perhaps the most sobering reactions to the no-indictment news came from those who seemed completely unfazed by the fact that Mueller’s investigation, aimed at uncovering a criminal conspiracy between Trump and the Kremlin, ended without digging up a single case of “collusion.”

The denials, evasions and bizarre hot takes are made even more poignant by the fact that just days ago, there was still serious talk about Trump’s entire family being hauled off to prison.

“You can’t blame MSNBC viewers for being confused. They largely kept dissenters from their Trump/Russia spy tale off the air for 2 years. As recently as 2 weeks ago, they had @JohnBrennan strongly suggesting Mueller would indict Trump family members on collusion as his last act,” journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted.

While the Mueller report has yet to be released to the public, the lack of indictments makes it clear that whatever was found, nothing came close to the vast criminal conspiracy alleged by virtually the entire American media establishment.

“You have been lied to for 2 years by the MSM. No Russian collusion by Trump or anyone else. Who lied? Head of the CIA, NSA,FBI,DOJ, every pundit every anchor. All lies,” wrote conservative activist Chuck Woolery.

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom was more blunt, but said it all: “Mueller – The name that ended all mainstream media credibility.”

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Canadian Lawmaker Accuses Trudeau Of Being A “Fake Feminist” (Video)

Rempel segued to Trudeau’s push to quash an investigation into allegations that he once groped a young journalist early in his political career

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Via Zerohedge

Canada’s feminist-in-chief Justin Trudeau wants to support and empower women…but his support stops at the point where said women start creating problems for his political agenda.

That was the criticism levied against the prime minister on Friday by a conservative lawmaker, who took the PM to task for “muzzling strong, principled women” during a debate in the House of Commons.

“He asked for strong women, and this is what they look like!” said conservative MP Michelle Rempel, referring to the former justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould, who has accused Trudeau and his cronies of pushing her out of the cabinet after she refused to grant a deferred prosecution agreement to a Quebec-based engineering firm.

She then accused Trudeau of being a “fake feminist”.

“That’s not what a feminist looks like…Every day that he refuses to allow the attorney general to testify and tell her story is another day he’s a fake feminist!”

Trudeau was so taken aback by Rempel’s tirade, that he apparently forgot which language he should respond in.

But Rempel wasn’t finished. She then segued to Trudeau’s push to quash an investigation into allegations that he once groped a young journalist early in his political career. This from a man who once objected to the continued use of the word “mankind” (suggesting we use “peoplekind” instead).

The conservative opposition then tried to summon Wilson-Raybould to appear before the Commons for another hearing (during her last appearance, she shared her account of how the PM and employees in the PM’s office and privy council barraged her with demands that she quash the government’s pursuit of SNC-Lavalin over charges that the firm bribed Libyan government officials). Wilson-Raybould left the Trudeau cabinet after she was abruptly moved to a different ministerial post – a move that was widely seen as a demotion.

Trudeau has acknowledged that he put in a good word on the firm’s behalf with Wilson-Raybould, but insists that he always maintained the final decision on the case was hers and hers alone.

Fortunately for Canadians who agree with Rempel, it’s very possible that Trudeau – who has so far resisted calls to resign – won’t be in power much longer, as the scandal has cost Trudeau’s liberals the lead in the polls for the October election.

 

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