ISIS without active leader since March
ISIS is not currently under the control of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is not currently under the control of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was seriously injured in an air strike in Western Iraq, British daily The Guardian reported citing sources.
Baghdadi suffered potentially life threatening injuries during an attack by the U.S.-led coalition in March. But he has made a slow recovery, the report added.
ISIS leaders met in the initial stages after the airstrike to discuss naming a new leader of the militant group when it was thought Baghdadi was dying.
According to The Guardian report a western diplomat and an Iraqi adviser both confirmed that a strike took place on March 18 in the al-Baaj a district of Nineveh, close to the Syrian border.
According to the diplomat a three-car convoy was targeted in the sir strike, in which three men were believed to have been killed. At the time it was known that Baghdadi was in one of the cars.
Iraqi official, Hisham al-Hashimi, an advisor to Baghdad on ISIS, told the newspaper: “Yes, he was wounded in al-Baaj near the village of Umm al-Rous on March 18 with a group that was with him.”
The Sunni tribal area of al-Baaj has been outside state control, even during Saddam Hussein’s reign, and has been considered a safe haven for militants since 2004.
Baghdadi’s leadership has largely revolved around the religious aspects of ISIS - but the threat posed by coalition force air strikes have forced the militant group to hand down decision making to other members of its leadership, the report added.
And since Baghdadi’s near-fatal injuries, much of the decision making has taken place through shura councils, the newspaper added, citing a source close to the organization.
Baghdadi escaped relatively unscathed in December when U.S. jets hit a two-car convoy on the outskirts of Mosul - killing his close aide - Auf Abdul Rahman al-Efery.