IS leader Al-Baghdadi still alive, top Kurdish official tells Reuters

A man purported to be the reclusive leader of the militant Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has made what would be his first public appearance at a mosque in the centre of Iraq’s second city, Mosul, according to a video recording posted on the Internet on July 5, 2014, in this still image taken from video.
(Social Media Website via Reuters TV)

A top Kurdish counter-terrorism official said on Monday he was 99 percent sure that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was alive and located south of the Syrian city of Raqqa, after reports that he had been killed, Reuters reported.

“Baghdadi is definitely alive. He is not dead. We have information that he is alive. We believe 99 percent he is alive,” Lahur Talabany told Reuters in an interview.

“Don’t forget his roots go back to al Qaeda days in Iraq. He was hiding from security services. He knows what he is doing.” According to Reuters.

Iraqi security forces have ended three years of Islamic State rule in the Iraqi city of Mosul, and the group is under growing pressure in Raqqa – both strongholds in the militants’ crumbling self-proclaimed caliphate, Reuters added.

Still, Talabany said Islamic State was shifting tactics despite low morale and it would take three or four years to eliminate the group, Reuters indicated.

After defeat, Islamic State would wage an insurgency and resemble al-Qaeda on “steroids”, he said.

The future leaders of Islamic State were expected to be intelligence officers who served under former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, the men credited with devising the group’s strategy, Reuters indicated.

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