MS Risk Blog

US Chief States that IS Leader is ‘Alive’

Posted on in Uncategorized title_rule

This month, United States Defense Secretary General James Mattis disclosed that he believes the leader of the so-called Islamic State (IS) group hasn’t been killed, despite recent reports.

Last month, Russia’s military claimed to have killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in an airstrike in May, after targeting a meeting of top IS commanders in Raqqa, Syria. The Russian claim could not be confirmed by the US at the time, with America’s military leading international efforts to defeat IS in Syria and Iraq. Earlier this month, just days after the liberation of Mosul, the group’s de facto capital in Iraq, a monitoring group disclosed that it had “confirmed information” al-Baghdadi was dead. The US again could not confirm the announcement by UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. However on Friday 21 July, US Defense Secretary General Mattis stated “I think Baghdadi’s alive…and I’ll believe otherwise when we know we’ve killed him,” adding “we are going after him but we assume he is alive.” His belief has been supported by Nicholas Rasmussen, the director of the US National Counter Terrorism Centre, who has stated, “I’ve seen nothing that would lead me to believe that the leader of ISIS (Islamic State) has been removed from the battlefield…We know a good bit. We just don’t have information that would confirm his death and demise.”

The US army’s General Raymond Thomas, who is the head of special operations, has admitted that the country’s military has come “particularly close” to getting al-Baghdadi in the past, but that he had slipped away. He blamed a media leak for ruining at least one promising lead.

Having lost control of Mosul, where al-Baghdadi declared the so-called IS caliphate in 2014, the group are also under increasing pressure in Raqqa, following the entrance of Western-backed forces into the city. The US government is offering up to US $25 million for information leading to al-Baghdadi’s location, arrest or conviction.