The Islamic State (IS) terrorist group chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was reportedly seriously ill after having his food poisoned by an assassin, a media report said.
Meals prepared for Baghdadi and three other commanders of the terrorist organisation were allegedly poisoned in Nineveh’s Be’aaj district, the Daily Mail reported on Monday.
It quoted an Iraqi news agency as saying that four militants, including Baghdadi, were suffering from “severe poisoning” and “have been transferred to an unknown location under strict measures”. The identities of the three other commanders are yet to be known.
The IS has reportedly launched a campaign of arrests to track down those responsible for poisoning the food.
Baghdadi is credited with transforming the breakaway al-Qaeda group and turning it into the independent IS group that is arguably the most powerful and wealthiest jihadi organisation in the world. Under the leadership of Baghdadi, the group spearheaded a militant offensive that expanded into Syria in 2013 and overran much of Iraq’s Arab heartland.
Al-Baghdadi’s movements are known only by his inner circle, and the Caliph, as he is known to his followers, is constantly on the move, changing locations in Iraq and Syria to avoid airstrikes. Baghdadi has been wounded multiple times in air strikes and been reported dead, but has re-surfaced each time.
Baghdadi, whose real name is Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim, is thought to have been born in Samarra, north of Baghdad, in 1971. In October 2011, the US officially designated Baghdadi as “terrorist” and offered a $10mn reward for information leading to his capture or death.
Reports suggest he was a cleric in a mosque in the city around the time of the US-led invasion in 2003. Some believe he was already a militant jihadist during the rule of Saddam Hussein. Others believe he was radicalised during the four years he was held at Camp Bucca, a US facility in southern Iraq where many al-Qaeda commanders were detained.
Under Baghdadi’s leadership, IS militants have shocked the world with their sadistic beheading of captured foreign journalists and civilians.