More Doubts About Al-Baghdadi’s Fate after Air Strike Hits ISIL Leadership
nsnbc : Doubts about the whereabouts and survival of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi grew after the Iraqi Air Force carried out an air strike against a gathering of ISIL leaders on Monday.
The air strike was carried out based on intelligence about the gathering of members of the leadership of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) at a location near al-Qaim in northwestern Iraq.
The Joint Operations Command that coordinated the fight against ISIL confirmed the airstrike in an official statement on Monday. It is, however, uncertain if al-Baghdadi was hit during the air strike.
The Joint Operations Command carried out the air strike based on information gathered by an intelligence cell that has monitored an ISIL convoy suspected of transporting Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi from Raqqa, Syria, across the border to the al-Qaim district in northwestern Iraq.
The Joint Operations Command said Iraqi F-16 jets also struck a gathering of top-ISIL commanders on February 11. However, it could not be confirmed whether al-Baghdadi was killed or injured in any of these strikes. The strike on Monday resulted in the death of 13 ISIL commanders, stated the Joint Operations Command.
Uncertainty about the whereabouts of al-Baghdadi already led to a revolt within the Islamic State leadership. During the first week of February 2017 a Syrian national known as Abu Abdullah al-Shami in the Iraqi city of Mosul declared that he is leading a revolt within the self-proclaimed Islamic State amidst rumors about the death or disappearance of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Al-Shami is calling upon ISIS combatants and supporters to cease to pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Al-Shami stressed that the survival of Al-Baghdadi (a.k.a. Al-Badir or Caliph Ibrahim) cannot be confirmed.
Al-Shami’s call for what some describe as an “ISIS-internal” rebellion was published via several ISIS-affiliated media. Al-Shami’s call was published after reports that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi either had been killed or had disappeared. Al-Shami stressed that the Islamic State’s (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) code of leadership demands that a pledge of allegiance be revoked once the whereabouts of a leader could not be confirmed or when the leader’s competence is questioned.
Moreover, the 44-year old chlorine bomb expert and engineer known as Abu Yaha al-Iraqi was killed “under mysterious circumstances” near his residence in Mosul. The death of Abu Yaha al-Iraqi came amidst the internal revolt and in the run-up to an anticipated major assault on remaining ISIL strongholds in the city of Mosul.
A reliable source in Mosul informed nsnbc that the murder may be linked to this “internal revolt”, but that it is also possible that foreign intelligence services who provided chemical weapons expertise to ISIL and other islamist insurgents in the region begin to “cover their bases” and rid themselves of inconvenient witnesses who could be a liability if captured alive.
The so-called Abu Yaha al-Iraqi was killed near his residence in the Islah al-Zeraie district. He was renown for being the engineer of the Islamic State’s chlorine bombs which have been widely used in the war theaters in Iraq and Syria. His family reportedly “disappeared” before he was murdered. The whereabouts of his family are currently unknown.
ISIL lost the eastern sections of the city of Mosul on January 24 after three months of heavy fighting. Iraqi military forces, Iraqi – Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, as well as Iranian-backed militia are currently in the process of coordinating a major assault on the Islamic not-so-big “State” in the western districts of the city of Mosul.
CH/L & F/AK – nsnbc 14.02.2017