Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi

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These are dark days for international jihadists. In Syria, Islamic State (IS) and Al-Qaeda militants are being chased out of their long-held strongholds either by troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad or the Kurd-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), backed by Russian and American airpower respectively. Pro-government militias in cooperation with national armies also have them on the run in Libya, Yemen and Iraq. As IS’s grand facade of a “caliphate” crumbles and it devolves into an improvised insurgency capable only of mounting terrorist attacks, you have to wonder: Where in blazes is its self-styled “caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the feared cleric-in-black?

IHS Inc, the reputed information and analysis firm focused on international security,
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Indeed, what little we know of him comes from IS propagandists. For example, the 45-year old was once monikered the “invisible sheikh” for hiding his face behind a mask while addressing battlefield commanders. He reportedly holds a doctorate in Islamic Studies from Baghdad University, which should make him an authority on religious discourse, but he utterly ruined his scholarship by proclaiming “Islam was never a religion of peace. Islam is the religion of fighting.” For my money, anyone who distills something as complex, fluid and personal as faith into self-serving sound bites is a scoundrel, …show more content…
His mission? To sow discord in the Muslim world, specifically the Middle East, using extremists drawn to powerful Islamic symbolism so the Zionists can opportunistically carve out “Eretz Israel” (Greater Israel) from Arab lands. Quite the tale, but wholly unreliable? Russian President Vladimir Putin didn’t seem to think so when in November last year, he revealed the role of 40 countries, including G20 members—a thinly veiled reference to the US and Saudi Arabia—in spawning and nurturing

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