Small Wars Journal

ISIS Loses All Territory, But Shadowy Leader Still At Large

ISIS Loses All Territory, But Shadowy Leader Still At Large by Zeina Karam – AP

The Islamic State group has lost all the territory it once controlled in Iraq and Syria, but its shadowy leader and self-proclaimed “caliph” is still at large.

 

With a $25 million U.S. bounty on his head, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is the world’s most wanted man, responsible for steering his chillingly violent organization into mass slaughter of opponents and directing and inspiring terror attacks across continents and in the heart of Europe.

 

Despite numerous claims about his death in the past few years, al-Baghdadi's whereabouts remain a mystery. He appeared in public only once, in 2014. Since then, many of his top aides have been killed, mostly in U.S.-led coalition airstrikes.

 

He is among the few senior ISIS 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's capture would be a coveted prize for the various players across both Syria and Iraq…

Read on.