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There’s A Very Good Chance Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi Is Finally Dead
The London-based monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says it has confirmed that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the notorious leader of ISIS who assumed command of the terrorist organization in 2010 and whose name has become synonymous with the group’s brand of ultra-violent global jihadism, is dead at last, Reuters reports.
As Reuters notes, SOHR has a solid track record of accurate reporting from within Syria, where a six-year civil war with constantly shifting battle lines has remained largely inaccessible to foreign journalists. The report comes nearly a month after the Russian Defense Ministry claimed that al-Baghdadi had been killed by a Russian airstrike in May, which had targeted a gathering of ISIS commanders on the outskirts of Raqqa.
In an interview with CBS, Rahman said that his organization’s sources “could not say when Baghdadi died, or whether he succumbed to injuries sustained in an attack.” This wouldn’t be the first time that Baghdadi’s death has been announced, but never before has such a report come from a group as credible as SOHR. Baghdadi hasn’t been heard from since November 2016, when he released an audio message urging followers to defend Mosul, according to CBS.
Washington did not corroborate Russia’s claim, nor has it has confirmed SOHR’s report — which the organization’s director, Rami Abdel Rahman, told Reuters is based on “confirmed information from leaders, including one of the first rank, in the Islamic State in the eastern countryside of Deir al-Zor.” However, in an email to Stars and Stripes reporter Chad Garland, a spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve seemed to suggest that ISIS leadership is in the midst of some sort of crisis.
“We cannot confirm this report, but hope it’s true,” the email reads. “We strongly [advise] ISIS to implement a strong line of succession, it will be needed.”
— Chad Garland (@chadgarland) July 11, 2017
There have certainly been plenty of opportunities in recent weeks for al-Baghdadi to be wounded or killed on the battlefields of Iraq and Syria. Huge swaths of those countries fell to ISIS when the Sunni Muslim extremist group, born from the ashes of the U.S.-led Iraq War, swept through the region in 2014 in a lightning offensive that dealt an embarrassing blow to the Iraqi military and plunged neighboring Syria deeper into chaos. Now, amid constant bombardments from the U.S.-led coalition and its allies, the group’s territory is quickly shrinking.
On July 10, the U.S. military and Iraqi security forces declared victory over ISIS after a bloody eight-month siege of Mosul, where Baghdadi first claimed to lead a caliphate in 2014. Meanwhile, coalition-backed militants continue their assault on Raqqa, ISIS’s de facto capital in northern Syria and its last major stronghold.
According to CBS, many experts predict that if and when Raqqa falls, ISIS will transform into a more “traditional insurgency,” one that lacks significant territory but continues to carry out terrorist attacks in the region and abroad. What role the U.S. and the other foreign powers who have poured countless resources into defeating ISIS will play following the seizure of Raqqa remains unclear.
Navy Secretary Richard Spencer took the reins at the Pentagon on Monday, becoming the third acting defense secretary since January.
Spencer is expected to temporarily lead the Pentagon while the Senate considers Army Secretary Mark Esper's nomination to succeed James Mattis as defense secretary. The Senate officially received Esper's nomination on Monday.
U.S. Special Operations Command may be on the verge of making the dream of flying infantry soldiers a reality, but the French may very well beat them to it.
On Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron shared an unusual video showing a man on a flying platform — widely characterized as a "hoverboard" — maneuvering through the skies above the Bastille Day celebrations in Paris armed with what appears to be a dummy firearm.
The video was accompanied with a simple message of "Fier de notre armée, moderne et innovante," which translates to "proud of our army, modern and innovative," suggesting that the French Armed Forces may be eyeing the unusual vehicle for potential military applications.
A lawmaker wants to know if the Pentagon ever exposed the American public to ticks infected with bioweapons
If you've ever wondered if the Pentagon has ever exposed the American public to ticks infected with biological weapons, you're not alone.
Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) authored an amendment to the House version of the Fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act would require the Defense Department Inspector General's Office to find out if the U.S. military experimented with using ticks and other insects as biological weapons between 1950 and 1975.
If such experiments took place, the amendment would require the inspector general's office to tell lawmakers if any of the ticks or other bugs "were released outside of any laboratory by accident or experiment design."
The Taliban drove his family out of Afghanistan when he was a child. Now he wants to go back as a Marine
There's no one path to military service. For some, it's a lifelong goal, for others, it's a choice made in an instant.
For 27-year-old Marine Pvt. Atiqullah Assadi, who graduated from Marine Corps bootcamp on July 12, the decision to enlist was the culmination of a journey that began when he and his family were forced to flee their home in Afghanistan.
The Air Force has administratively separated the Nellis Air Force Base sergeant who was investigated for making racist comments about her subordinates in a video that went viral last year, Task & Purpose has learned.