Many entities in the world seem to have the unnatural ability to come back from the dead at will. Cats have long been fabled for their “nine lives” due to their innate and often dangerous curiosity for example. Vampires are eternally popular. So are Zombies. Blofeld died more than once in the James Bond series, as did The Master in Doctor Who and not to mention [REDACTED SPOILER] in the Star Wars franchise. Kenny from South Park is still around and who can forget Dirty Den Watts rising from the grave like a pound shop Christopher Lee. The list is truly endless.
Perhaps it is no coincidence that many of the characters and creations listed are notably villainous, with either immortality often being the goal of fiction’s bad guys or a villain being so juicy that a rematch is hastily scheduled despite the unlikelihood of survival.
But perhaps no villain has ever defied the grave as well as Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.
Apparently now finally and defiantly dead, al-Baghdadi has of course been declared dead on at least five occasions over the past five years and despite Donald Trump confidently proclaiming that al-Baghdadi has indeed shuffled off this mortal coil, Russia has declared that they have no reliable proof that he’s deceased. The United Nations have equally stated that “any sort of information would need to be verified by the various authorities on the ground.”
Here are the reasons for the scepticism.
The first reports of the possible death or severe injury of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi came as early as November of 2014, with airstrikes said to have killed the IS leader in the first week of November.
The following year there were claims that the Iraqi airforce had struck a convoy containing the Islamic State leader near the border with Syria. The report followed reports in April that he had been severely injured by an airstrike and claims that he had been removed in a palace coup within the Islamic State group.
June 12, 2016
al-Baghdadi was reported to have been killed again in June of 2016 during an airstrike in the then “Islamic State capital” of Raqqa. The source of the report was the AlhlulBayt news agency and other sources. Just one week prior he’d also been reportedly injured in another airstrike according to Iraqi television.
May 28, 2017
Keeping up the yearly record of being reported dead or incapacitated, al-Baghdadi was reportedly killed in a Russian airstrike in May of 2017. The airstrike, which killed up to 300 other ISIS members, was said to have occurred in Raqqa. Russia’s foreign ministry stated it was “highly likely” that he had been killed. On June 29, Iranian television distributed photographs that seemingly confirmed the death of al-Baghdadi during the incident.
While the deceased man in the photos certainly has a striking resemblance to al-Baghdadi, it was revealed that the photos had been online since the November 2014 incident when they were posted by India News. They had also been posted by Iranian news aggregator Namnak in the aftermath of the June 12, 2016 incident.
The origin of the original photo was Islamic State Twitter account Al-I’tisaam.
June 11, 2017
It’s the Syrian’s turn to kill al-Baghdadi in June, reports suggesting that the Syrian government had killed the terrorist leader in an artillery strike.
July 11, 2017
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights proclaimed al-Baghdadi dead in July, the third such declaration that year. While the group didn’t state how he had been killed, they claimed it happened in the Deir Ezzor area of Syria.
“(We have) confirmed information from leaders, including one of the first rank, in [Isis territory] in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor”
The Pentagon, Kurdish and Iraqi sources all said they could not corroborate the claims.
While al-Baghdadi has certainly dodged many bullets from many nations over the years, it does finally seem that he may have met his final and ultimate end. A healthy dose of scepticism is always needed where the claims of the American military are concerned however and like both Russia and the UN, everyone should await independent verification to prove the claims being made.
And how can they prove that it’s him and that he is dead?