You may recognize this man as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head honcho of the Islamic State and former Gitmo detainee. Both the Allies and Syrian governments have been trying to take him out for years, but thanks to a healthy dose of luck and government leaks under the Obama administration, he has managed to elude getting his just rewards. Now it seems that just when the Allied Forces attacking Mosul, Iraq thought they had him in their sites, he has managed to escape.
Al-baghdadi has been the driving force behind the ISIS terror network since it’s inception, proclaiming himself the Caliph back in 2014. In the last few years, he has survived being wounded at least twice and poisoned by a disenchanted group of his followers. Now it appears he may have escaped Mosul in a desperate bid to stay alive according to U.S. and Iraqi officials. Military analysts note that official communications from terror leaders have gone silent as the Iraqi military pushes deeper into Mosul. They told Reuters Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may still be in the city, but is likely hiding in the desert somewhere.
Al-Baghdadi has proved almost as hard to kill as Bin Laden and is known to stay on the move, seldom sleeping in the same place twice. The officials said the terror honcho is likely hiding among his supporters in desert villages, instead of staying too close to the deadly fighting in more urban regions. Last fall, while he was traveling between Mosul and Raqqa, Syria his convoy was hit by a drone strike and he was believed to have been killed. But it turned out that while four of his top commanders were killed in the attack, he escaped with a major wound from which he healed.
Analysts suspect he has taken to ground in a desert area north of the Euphrates river, populated by Sunni Arab tribes, analyst Hisham al-Hashimi, who has advised the Iraqi government, told Reuters. “It’s their historic region, they know the people there and the terrain; food, water and gasoline are easy to get, spies are easier to spot.”
“The game is up,” U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Matthew Isler told Reuters, saying the battle for Mosul has reached its late stages. On Tuesday morning Iraqi forces launched a daring nighttime raid on the sprawling complex of municipal buildings in western Mosul along the Tigris River. The attack was lead by Iraq’s emergency response division, an elite arm of the Federal Police and after facing very little resistance, regular Federal Police units followed and by 6:30 a.m. Tuesday morning an Iraqi flag had been hoisted above the tallest government building.
From the roof of an abandoned school acting as a forward base on the edge of Mosul’s Tayran neighborhood, Maj. Gen. Ali Alami said the Nineveh governing complex was liberated and fully cleared. At the same time, civilians trickled out of the area carrying their possessions in overstuffed suitcases. “The situation is not good honestly, there is so much destruction,” Iman Issam said as she left the city with her teenage daughter.