“The Mystery Man Who Is the World’s Top Jihadist”
The Washington Post, June 8, 2014, p.A15
“Though [Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is] ‘the world’s most dangerous man‘ to Time magazine and the ‘the new bin Laden‘ to Le Monde, the man who orchestrated the sacking of northern Iraq’s largest city and today controls a nation-size swath of land, is a relatively unknown and enigmatic figure. Much of what is known of Baghdadi’s history is unconfirmed, while other information is disputed to such a degree that it’s nearly impossible to discern where fact meets Baghdadi’s rising myth. Several facts, however, are clear: Baghdadi leads the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. He is a shrewd strategist, a prolific fundraiser and a ruthless killer. The United States has a $10 million bounty on his head. He has thrown off the yoke of al-Qaeda command and just took his biggest prize yet in Mosul, an oil hub that sits at the vital intersection of Iraq, Turkey and Syria. And in just one year of grisly killing, he has in all likelihood surpassed even al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in international clout and prestige among Islamist militants. ‘The true heir to Osama bin Laden may be ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,’ wrote The Washington Post’s David Ignatius. … In fact, Baghdadi is now recruiting fighters from other Zawahiri affiliates, including al-Qaeda’s Yemen branch and the Somalia-based al-Shabab. … The opacity of his background, analysts say, suggests a broader truth of rising militant Islamists. ‘The mystery surrounding Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi — at the level of his personality, his movements, or even his relatives, his family, and those close to him — came as a result of what happened to previous leaders, who were killed after their movements were detected,’ wrote Mushreq Abbas in al-Monitor. He is the ‘invisible jihadist,’ according to Le Monde.”
Quickie Analysis: Unfortunately for those who would like to stop him, the leader of ISIS seems to have done his homework on the mistakes of previous terrorist and insurgent leaders. And now he controls large chunks of Syria and Iraq.