Who is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi?

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, courtesy of BBC
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, courtesy of BBC

 

David Ignatius of The Washington Post described  Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (nom de guerre), the commander of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), as “The true heir to Osama bin Laden.” The terrorist kingpin has taken precautions to protect his identity, and rarely appears in media sources or directly speaks to his troops. His secretive tendencies have led his troops to refer to him as, “the invisible sheikh.” Yet the invisible sheikh has a highly visible past…

Al-Baghdadi has gone through several transformations throughout his life. He was born northern Baghdad – Samarra – in 1971. During the American 2003 invasion, he was a cleric in a mosque, possibly with a doctorate in theological studies from an Iraqi university. Debate continues on when his radicalization occurred, but it was most likely when Americans jailed him as a low level prisoner in Camp Bucca for four years from 2005-2009.  His last words to the commander of Camp Bucca, Col. Kenneth King, were ‘I’ll see you guys in New York.” After his release, he rose to prominence in Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) around 2010. Following Osama Bin Laden’s death in May 2011,  al-Baghdadi ordered suicide bombings in Mosul to avenge the leader of Al-Qaeda, resulting in killed 24 policemen and wounded 72 others. In October 2011, the US  designated Baghdadi as “terrorist”, offering a bounty for his elimination. He has then been active in Syria and Iraq. The BBC has described him as, “ruthless battlefield tactician,” which has led disgruntled Sunnis to join his ranks.His aliases include Abu Du’a, Abu Duaa, Dr. Ibrahim ‘Awwad Ibrahim ‘Ali al-Badri al-Samarrai‘, Ibrahim ‘Awad Ibrahim al-Badri al Samarrai, and Dr. Ibrahim. Altogether, Al-Baghdadi is the high value target for Americans in Iraq.

Date of Birth: 1971
Place of Birth: Samarra‘, Iraq
Complexion: Olive
Hair: Black
Eyes:
Brown

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2011, courtesy of the NCTC
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2011, courtesy of the NCTC

BBC. “Profile: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.” June 11, 2014. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-27801676

The fierce ambition of ISIL’s Baghdadi.” Al Jazeera. June 15, 2014. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/06/fierce-ambition-isil-baghdadi-2014612142242188464.html

Peter Beaumont. “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: The Isis chief with the ambition to overtake al-Qaida.” The Guardian. June 12, 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/12/baghdadi-abu-bakr-iraq-isis-mosul-jihad

Michael Daly. “ISIS Leader: ‘See You in New York’.” The Daily Beast. June 14, 2014. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/06/14/isis-leader-see-you-in-new-york.html

. “How the Top Iraqi Terrorist Was Helped by a Bush-Signed Agreement.” Mother Jones. June 18, 2014. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/06/abu-bakr-al-baghdadi-release-george-bush

David Ignatius. “The Return of Al-Qaeda.” The Washington Post. June 10, 2014. http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/david-ignatius-the-return-of-al-qaeda/2014/06/10/4a82eaaa-f0ea-11e3-bf76-447a5df6411f_story.html

NCTC. “Abu Du’a.” June 27, 2014. http://www.nctc.gov/site/profiles/dua.html

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