Where is ISIS leader Baghdadi? The US isn’t quite sure

This file photo taken on July 5, 2014 shows the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, speaking in Mosul. (AFP)

The United States has “tons” of intelligence on ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, but so far, it’s “nothing credible,” a counterterrorism official told ABC News in a report published on Monday.

Believing that they were once close to tracking down the elusive leader, that feeling has now faded with the belief that the world’s most wanted terrorist is on the move from Mosul – Iraq’s second-largest city that Iraqi forces are currently fighting to liberate from ISIS.

"There was a sort of 'spidey sense' at that time [the week Donald Trump was sworn in as president last January] that they were close, but that has gone away," a senior counterterrorism official briefed on the hunt to find Baghdadi told ABC News.

"We don't think he's in Mosul anymore," another counterterrorism official involved in the campaign to fight ISIS told the news network. "He's on the move."

A combo of two handout pictures released by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security (L) and by Iraqi Ministry of Interior shows photographs of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. (AFP)

A combo of two handout pictures released by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security (L) and by Iraqi Ministry of Interior shows photographs of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. (AFP)

'Under a pile of rubble?'

"We have tons of intelligence reporting on al-Bagdhadi but nothing credible," the counterterrorism official said. "If he is still in Mosul, he's under a pile of rubble. But we're not sure where he is."

Baghdadi, an Iraqi whose real name is Ibrahim al-Samarrai, declared himself the caliph of a huge swath of Iraq and Syria two years ago.

His exact location is not clear. Reports have said he may be in Mosul, or in ISIS-held territory to the west of the city, close to the border with Syria.

Last December, Kurdish officials told Reuters news agency that growing pressure resulting from a coalition military assault on Mosul is causing Baghdadi and his top lieutenants to move around and try to hide themselves.

The US has more than doubled its previous reward for information on Baghdadi, offering $25 million for information that would help locate, arrest or convict the head of the militant group.

(With Reuters)
 

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:49 - GMT 06:49
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