SAS are put on ‘kill or capture’ mission in hunt for ‘evil’ ISIS terror chief Abū Bakr al-Baghdadi in wake of Sri Lanka attack that killed 253 including eight Britons
- The world’s most wanted man Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has so far eluded capture
- American Special Forces and SAS troops ‘have joined forces to hunt him down’
- Father-of-five self-proclaimed leader of ISIS has £20million bounty on his head
SAS troops are reportedly on a ‘kill or capture’ mission to hunt down the world’s most wanted man, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
There is currently a £20million bounty on Baghdadi, who was presumed dead until new footage of him speaking to followers was released by ISIS in April.
Retired British Army officer Colonel Richard Kemp has warned Baghdadi ‘urgently’ needs to be stopped as he continues to inspire and encourage atrocities including the Sri Lanka bombings, which killed eight Britons.
ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi appeared in a propaganda video in April this year
The RAF has reportedly deployed drones armed with Hellfire missiles from RAF Waddington on surveillance missions. Pictured, a US Air Force Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle
A video released after the Sri Lankan bombings, saw the group claiming responsibility pledging allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
This pictures claims to show British SAS ground troops supporting the war on ISIS
Timeline of terror: How Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi rose through the ranks of extremist group
1971: Born in Iraq, believed to be in the city of Samarra, north of Baghdad
2003: US invades Iraq. Baghdadi is believed to be working as a cleric at a mosque in Samarra
2004-2008: Baghdadi, then known as Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim al-Badry, was held at the Camp Bucca detention centre by the US, accused of being an al-Qaeda leader. Experts dispute whether he was affiliated with the organisation before he was detained, or became radicalised in prison
2010: Baghdadi becomes leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, after the former leader blows himself up when cornered by US forces
2011: The US official designated Baghdadi a terrorist and puts a $10million bounty on his head
2013: Under Baghdadi’s leadership ISI, as it was then known, merges with the Syrian terror group al-Nusra and becomes ISIS
2014: After seizing a vast swathe of territory across Iraq and Syria in a sudden uprising, Baghdadi makes a speech at the al-Nuri mosque in Mosul declaring a Caliphate and rebrands ISIS as Islamic State. This marks the last time was seen in public
2016: Baghdadi released an audio recording as the battle for Mosul starts in November, urging his follower to kill ‘unbelievers’ threatening the city
2017: Russia claims to have killed Baghdadi in an airstrike on Raqqa, but fails to provide proof
2018: Voice recording released of Baghdadi reportedly addressing his followers as ISIS is pushed out of Syria and Iraq by US-backed forces
2019: Only his second ever video appearance released, praising the Sri Lankan Easter bombings and vowing revenge for ISIS’ defeat
According to The Mirror, the SAS is said to be on a ‘kill or capture’ mission, while the RAF has deployed drones armed with Hellfire missiles from RAF Waddington on surveillance missions.
Some 30 SAS and Special Boat Service are said to be searching for Baghdadi, helped by Iraq’s ‘Golden Division’ special forces.
He is thought to be hiding in the desert of Al Anbar Province, west of Baghdad in Iraq.
Col Kemp, a former advisor to the government on terrorism, labelled Baghdadi ‘one of the most evil men in history’.
Col Kemp told The Mirror: ‘We need to get him urgently to stop his poisonous message encouraging global violence, including savage attacks in Britain like we saw at the Manchester Arena in 2017.’
Nicknamed ‘The Ghost’, Baghdadi had not appeared in public since he delivered a sermon at Mosul’s famed Al-Nuri mosque in 2014 declaring himself ‘caliph’.
But in April he appeared in a chilling propaganda video, outlining the new path forward for his group and telling followers: ‘Widen your reach, connect with far-flung militant groups and exhaust your enemies with a war of attrition.’
In the 40-second video Baghdadi vowed his militants would get revenge on the West for the group’s defeat in Iraq and Syria and claimed the Sri Lankan Easter bombings were part of their ‘battle of attrition’.
He could be seen sat in a room with a Kalashnikov assault rifle leaning against the wall behind him.
Baghdadi is among the few senior IS commanders still at large after two years of steady battlefield losses that saw the self-styled ‘caliphate’ shrink from an area the size of Britain to a tiny speck in the Euphrates River valley.
Although largely seen as a symbolic figurehead of the global terror network – he was described as ‘irrelevant for a long time’ by a coalition spokesman in 2017.
al-Baghdadi, delivering a sermon at a mosque in Iraq during his first public appearance, in 2014
The terror leader is thought to be hiding in the desert of Al Anbar Province, west of Baghdad in Iraq (pictured)
Speaking earlier this month, Iraqi security adviser Hisham al-Hashemi said officials had narrowed Baghdadi’s whereabouts from 17 to a possible four locations.
These include the deserts of Iraq’s western Anbar, Iraq’s Wadi Houran — a riverbed in Anbar or in Syria’s mid-east Homs desert.
He also cautioned that IS ‘will try to rebuild trust among its fighters, will try to launch further operations’ like the Sri Lanka April 21 attacks which killed more than 250 people.
ISIS leader al-Baghdadi could be seen reading from a piece of paper as declared that ‘the battle for Baghouz is over’ and that the group was waging a ‘battle of attrition’
Baghdadi said in his 40-second address in April, titled ‘In the Hospitality of the Emir of the Believers’, while sitting on a cushion and speaking to three men whose faces have been blurred: ‘The battle for Baghouz is over.’
But Baghdadi then added, ‘there will be more to come after this battle’, saying his group is fighting a ‘battle of attrition’.
He blamed the fall of his ‘caliphate’ on the ‘savagery’ of Christians towards Muslims and that the battle of Baghouz demonstrated the ‘barbarism and brutality’ of the West and the ‘courage, steadfastness and resilience of the nation of Islam’.
The special forces mission to find him comes as an investigation revealed ISIS jihadists are using Instagram to recruit new followers and celebrate terror atrocities around the world.
Posts on the social networking sites include photographs of Baghdadi, and images of dead soldiers and beheadings.
They also include threats of terror atrocities on the scale of the Sri Lankan suicide bombings that claimed 253 lives, the Sunday Telegraph reported.
The posts, uncovered by Eric Feinberg of the Global Intellectual Property Enforcement Centre, also included a child in combat fatigues preparing to behead a prisoner and a baby in a walker below ISIS iconography.
Al-Baghdadi also vowed to take revenge for his dead militants killed as US-backed forces retook territory in Iraq and Syria seized by the Islamist group since 2014
Who is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi?
It was Camp Bucca – later dubbed ‘the University of Jihad’ – where Baghdadi came of age as a jihadist
Born Ibrahim Awad al-Badri in 1971, the passionate football fan came from modest beginnings in Samarra, north of Baghdad.
His school results prevented him studying law and his poor eyesight stopped him joining the army, so he moved to the Baghdad district of Tobchi to study Islam.
After US-led forces invaded Iraq in 2003, he founded his own insurgent organisation but never carried out major attacks.
When he was arrested and held in a US detention facility in southern Iraq in February 2004, he was still very much a lower tier jihadist.
But it was Camp Bucca – later dubbed ‘the University of Jihad’ – where Baghdadi came of age as a jihadist.
He was released at the end of 2004 for lack of evidence. Iraqi security services arrested him twice subsequently, in 2007 and 2012, but let him go because they did not know who he was.
In 2005, the father-of-five from two different wives pledged allegiance to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the brutal leader of Iraq’s Al-Qaeda franchise.
Zarqawi was killed by an American drone strike in 2006, and after his successor was also eliminated, Baghdadi took the helm in 2010.
He revived the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), expanded into Syria in 2013 and declared independence from Al-Qaeda.
In the following years, Baghdadi’s Islamic State group captured swathes of territory, set up a brutal system of government, and inspired thousands to join the ‘caliphate’ from abroad.
Baghdadi was raised in a family divided between a religious clan and officers loyal to Saddam’s secular Baath party.
Years later, his jihadist group incorporated ex-Baathists, capitalising on the bitterness many officers felt after the American move to dissolve the Iraqi army in 2003.
He is thought to have had three wives in total, Iraqi Asma al-Kubaysi, Syrian Isra al-Qaysi and another, more recently, from the Gulf.
The terrorist has been accused of repeatedly raping girls and women he kept as ‘sex slaves’, including a pre-teen Yazidi girl and US aid worker Kayla Mueller, who was subsequently killed.
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