Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
|Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
|Leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq|
|Preceded by||Abu Omar al-Baghdadi|
|Commands||al-Qaeda in Iraq|
Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri (Arabic: ابراهيم عواد ابراهيم علي البدري), more commonly known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (أبو بكر البغدادي), and also known as Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri al-Samarrai, Dr. Ibrahim, and Abu Dua (أبو دعاء), is the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), which is the Iraqi division of the international Islamist militant organization al-Qaeda. Al-Baghdadi moved to Syria after the beginning of that country's revolution, and in April 2013 changed the name of his group to the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (Syria), while at the same time announcing the merger of his group with Syria's Jabhat al-Nusra. Jabhat al-Nusra's leader disputed this merger and appealed to al-Qaeda emir Ayman al-Zawahiri, who ruled against al-Baghdadi's merger. Al-Baghdadi, however, dismissed the ruling and took control of a reported 80% of Jabhat al-Nusra's foreign fighters.
On 4 October 2011, the US State Department marked al-Baghdadi as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist while announcing a $10 million reward for information leading to his capture or death. Only al-Zawahiri, chief of the global al-Qaeda organization, merits a larger reward at $25 million.
Al-Baghdadi is in charge of running all AQI activity in Iraq, and is responsible for managing and directing large-scale operations such as the 28 August 2011 attack on the Umm al-Qura mosque in Baghdad that killed prominent Sunni lawmaker Khalid al-Fahdawi.
Following the 2 May 2011 US commando raid that killed al-Qaeda supreme leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, al-Baghdadi released a statement eulogizing bin Laden and threatened violent retaliation for his death. On 5 May 2011, he claimed responsibility for an attack in Hilla that killed 24 policemen and wounded 72 others. Between March and April 2011, AQI claimed 23 other attacks south of Baghdad, all of which are alleged to have been carried out under al-Baghdadi's command.
On 15 August 2011, a wave of AQI suicide attacks beginning in Mosul resulted in 70 deaths. Shortly thereafter, AQI pledged on its website to carry out 100 attacks across Iraq in retaliation for bin Laden's death. The statement claimed the campaign would feature various methods of attack including raids, suicide attacks, roadside bombs and small arms attacks in all cities and rural areas across the country.
On 22 December 2011, a series of coordinated car bombings and IED attacks struck over a dozen neighborhoods across Baghdad, killing at least 63 people and wounding 180; the assault came just days after the US completed its troop withdrawal from the country. On 26 December, the Islamic State of Iraq - AQI's political front - released a statement on jihadist internet forums claiming credit for the operation, stating that all targets of the Baghdad attack were "accurately surveyed and explored," and that the "operations were distributed between targeting security headquarters, military patrols and gatherings of the filthy ones of the al-Dajjal Army (Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army)."
On 26 October 2005, a US warplane struck a suspected insurgent safehouse near the Syrian border in an attempt to kill al-Baghdadi. At the time, he was identified as a "senior al-Qaeda in Iraq figure" who was part of a network of AQI operatives based in a string of towns along the Syrian border northwest of Baghdad; al-Baghdadi's personal role was that of a facilitator in the smuggling of Syrian and Saudi Arabian militants into Iraq. Coalition intelligence, in stating that al-Baghdadi was the "emir of Rawa," also said that he was responsible for running Taliban-like Islamic courts in order to terrorize the local population, claiming that he "held religious courts to try local citizens charged with supporting the Iraqi government and coalition forces. He would kidnap individuals or entire families, accuse them, pronounce sentence and then publicly execute them."
Although intelligence indicated that he was inside the house at the time of the strike, his body was never recovered and he eventually became overall leader of AQI in 2010.
Reports of Arrest
On 2 December 2012, Iraqi officials claimed that they had captured the top al-Qaeda operative in Iraq, widely believed to be al-Baghdadi, in Baghdad following a two-month tracking operation. Officials claimed that they had also seized a list containing the names and locations of other al-Qaeda operatives. However, this claim was rejected by the Islamic State of Iraq. In an interview with Al Jazeera on 7 December 2012, Iraq's Acting Interior Minister said that the arrested man was not al-Baghdadi, but rather a section commander in charge of an area stretching from the northern outskirts of Baghdad to Taji.
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- Roggio, Bill (7 December). "Islamic State of Iraq denies its emir captured". The Long War Journal. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
- "Detained man is not al-Qaeda in Iraq leader". Al Jazeera. 7 December 2012. Retrieved 13 December 2012.