For the last month, confirmations and denials of the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr Al-Badhdadi have come in with some regularity, even in reports about the deaths of tangential ISIS figures. In an interview with Reuters, the top Kurdish counter-terrorism official has tossed some cold water on the rumors by saying Baghdadi is almost certainly alive and hiding in Raqqa, Syria.
“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.”
Talabany goes on to say that it’ll take three or four more years to defeat ISIS, even as they are pushed out of their strongholds, and that preparations need to be made to face a prolonged insurgency from the group.
Baghdadi is believed to have been killed in a Russian military airstrike outside of Raqqa in May, though the Russian military was unable to confirm. The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights reported he was killed in the strike, and claims to have sourced the information from ISIS, but neither ISIS itself or the US military have confirmed Baghdadi’s death at this point. However, that hasn’t stopped President Trump from running his mouth, or in this case fingers.