The details of the death of the caliph of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Abu Bakr al-Baghdad on October 27, are still emerging.
Nevertheless, Baghdadi’s killing will surely rock ISIS, the world’s most venomous terrorist organization.
Baghdadi blew himself up with an explosive vest when US special troops raided his convoy in the northern Syrian Province of Idlib, according to US President Donald Trump on Sunday.
He was on the way out of Syria on the road to the Turkish border. The area where he was tracked and died was known to be under the military control of Turkey. Baghdadi was in the company of two of his wives, three children, and some personal guards.
Known as the world’s most dangerous terrorist, Baghdadi was under the close watch of the US for several weeks before his killing. His dramatic death comes as US troops started leaving Syria and relocating to neighboring Iraq.
Baghdadi rose to international fame in June 2014 when he promulgated a caliphate on the territories his organization overran in Iraq. A short time later, ISIS published a map showing its territorial ambitions that covered most of the Middle East, Asia and Europe, including the whole of Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and North Africa.
ISIS gained territorial control, using the most brutal means and tactics. Videos coming from the areas the organization controlled were abhorrent to Muslims before the followers of other faiths. Hundreds of millions of Muslims across the world wondered whether the bloody tactics of the terrorist group had anything to do with Islam and its teachings.
The tactics included the beheading of opponents and the followers of other faiths and the merciless killing of enemy troops. The world watched in shock when ISIS captured a Jordanian pilot and cremated him alive. It also watched as it slaughtered western journalists and those who claimed to have worked as informants for enemy governments and organizations.
“Something very big has just happened,” President Trump wrote on Twitter in the morning on Sunday.
He said at a press briefing at the White House that the ISIS caliph was cornered in a dead-end tunnel.
He had three children with him when he blew himself and the children up with the explosive vest he wore.
Baghdadi, 48, was declared dead numerous times in the past. Nevertheless, he kept reappearing to belie all these reports, including in a video that was aired in April this year when he acknowledged the loss of Baghuz, the last territorial stronghold in Syria. However, he vowed to fight on.
“Our battle today is a war of attrition to harm the enemy, and they should know that jihad will continue until doomsday,” Baghdadi, who was filmed together with a group of senior ISIS commanders, said.
But the image of a strong and dominating leader Baghdadi tried to project in this video was shattered by Trump’s account about the last minutes in his life.
“He was a sick and depraved man, and now he’s gone,” the US president said.
He described the ISIS caliph as a “coward”. He said he watched the raid on Baghdadi’s convoy from the White House situation room with Vice President Mike Pence and senior military and intelligence advisers.
It felt, he said, as though you were watching a movie.
Nonetheless, the life of the ISIS caliph and the emergence of his organization was a nightmare for millions of Iraqis and Syrians as well as to hundreds of millions of Middle Easterners who lived in utter fear as the bloody organization captured one territory after another.
To these people, Baghdadi can be dead, but the painful memories of the practices of his organization will continue to live on forever.