The elusive chief of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has reportedly been killed in air strikes carried out by the coalition forces led by the United States. According to a report published on Monday in the Turkish daily Yeni Safak, which cited Arabic media as its source, Baghdadi was killed in air raids conducted in Syria on Sunday.
The daily said local media was citing the news agency al-Amaq, which leans towards the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS.
"Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been killed by coalition air strikes on Raqqa on the fifth day of Ramadan," the daily quoted the agency as saying in a statement released on behalf of ISIS to report that the self-proclaimed "Caliph" had died.
However, the U.S.-led coalition, which reportedly carried out the air raid in the northern Syrian city, is yet to make a statement.
A Press Trust of India (PTI) report from earlier this month had said Baghdadi had been injured in air strikes carried out by the coalition on the Iraqi side of the Iraq-Syria border.
The PTI report had cited Iraqi news channel Al Sumariya TV, which in turn had cited sources in the Nineveh province of Iraq as saying that Baghdadi had sustained the injuries on June 9.
The Express UK had reported that the strike occurred when Baghdadi and some other members of the organisation were travelling in a convoy.
"The attack was carried out on the basis of precise intelligence information that led to strike its own that site," local sources were quoted by Express UK as telling Al Sumariya TV.
The publication also said the area where the strike took place was one of the strongholds of ISIS, which is also refered to as Daesh locally, and quoted the source as telling the news channel: "Baghdadi and the other ISIS leaders arrived in Iraq from Syria with a convoy of cars."
Similar reports from earlier
Interestingly, this is not the first time that reports have claimed Baghdadi is dead. Radio Iran had claimed in April last year that he had succumbed to injuries he had sustained in an air strike a month earlier.
Similar reports had accompanied a video that had emerged in September 2014, showing Baghdadi apparently sustaining injuries following an airstrike.
Who is Baghdadi?
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is beleived to have been born in Iraq in 1971. Described as shy, he lived in Baghdad until 2004. When the Mujahideen Shura Council — an organisation consisting of several Sunni Islamic insurgent groups that was fighting the U.S. and coalition and Iraqi forces in the Saddam Hussein era — changed its name to Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), which was essentially the Iraq arm of al-Qaeda, Baghdadi, who was already part of the MSC, came to occupy high posts within ISI.
He became the leader of ISI in 2010, following the death of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, and ISI went on to perpetrate many crimes under him, killing hundreds of people in Iraq, including policement. Then ISI entered Syria in 2013, and became Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), alternatively the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). And Baghdadi's reign of terror continued.
ISIS declared a caliphate in mid-2014, and Baghdadi became its self-proclaimed caliph. And as his influence spread, so did rumours about him. One even claimed that he was a Mossad secret agent — effectively, Jewish.