Conflict

Where is ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi hiding?

Middle East

Ibrahim al-Badri, otherwise known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, last publicised a message in August 2018, leading many people to question the ISIS leader's whereabouts.

With the defeat of ISIS imminent in the militant group’s last enclave in Syria’s eastern Deir ez-Zour Province, the search for the militant group’s leader, Ibrahim Awad al-Badri, also known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has intensified.

Surrounded in an area of less than one kilometre squared, the militant group is fully besieged with no way to leave but death or surrender. However, reports from last year say that Baghdadi is not in Baghouz but instead is always on the move between several cities along the Iraqi-Syrian border.

“It is certain that Baghdadi is still inside Syria and he only comes to safe areas, only some of the time,” said Fadel Abu Raghief, an Iraqi security expert.

According to the reports that were released by a Jordanian News Agency, ever since the fall of the so-called “caliphate” in Iraq in December 2017, Baghdadi only travels with five other people, including his son and his son-in-law.

These reports were confirmed by the Iraqi Intelligence Services after they were able to capture five prominent leaders in ISIS last year after a massive intelligence operation.

According to the captured militants, Baghdadi and his entourage do not stay in one place for more than a single day, and that they are usually unguarded, choosing to wear civilian clothing to mask their identities and blend in with the locals.

While the search for Baghdadi began immediately after the launch of the caliphate in 2014, the security forces have increased their efforts due to the near defeat of ISIS in Syria.

Since August 23rd, 2018, Baghdadi has not released any audio statements to his followers to continue their war. This has led to other experts saying that he has been killed or severely injured in an airstrike or during clashes. However, these reports are unsubstantiated and have not been backed up by hard facts.

Until his death or capture is officially announced, the search for Baghdadi will continue, with the hope of bringing the leader of the militant group to justice for the crimes that he and his followers committed against humanity.