“I think Baghdadi’s alive… I think that he is alive, and I’ll believe otherwise when we know we’ve killed him,” Mattis said as quoted by Washington Examiner.
Last Friday, Mattis declared that he could not confirm or deny reports that Baghdadi was dead, but National Counterterrorism Center Director Nick Rasmussen added earlier Friday that he had no indications the terror leader was dead.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights declared July 11 that it had “confirmed information” that ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been killed.
“[We have] confirmed information from leaders, including one of the first rank who is Syrian, in the Islamic State (ISIL, ISIS or Daesh) in the Eastern countryside of Deir Ezzur,” Rami Abdulrahman, the director of the British-based war monitoring group, said.
Abdulrahman added that activists working with him in Deir Ezzur had been told by the ISIL sources that Baghdadi had died, but not when or how. The sources stressed that Baghdadi had been present in the Eastern countryside of Syria’s Deir Ezzur province in the past three months.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim al-Badri), also known as Abu Dua, was born in 1971 in the city of Samarra in Iraq.
According to media reports, al-Baghdadi was brought up in a religious family. His relatives were famous preachers and specialists of the Arabic language, rhetoric and logic. He received a PhD in Islamic law from the University of Baghdad.
Al-Baghdadi was proclaimed the caliph of Daesh, a “caliphate” created on the territories Daesh managed to seize in Syria and Iraq in late June 2014.
Reports of al-Baghdadi’s death repeatedly appear in the world media. His death was reported in November 2014, April 2015, June, October and December 2016 and January 2017.
According to reports, ISIL members live in fear and anxiety after they heard news about the Syrian army’s intensified operations in Deir Ezzur, Hama, Homs and Raqqa and liberation of group’s de facto capital in Iraq, Mosul, as well as death of the Takfiri terrorist group’s leader.