The many names of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Ali Hashem writes: Even to those who have hunted him and followed his every move, Islamic State (IS) Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi remains a mystery.

“Before anything I want to understand why he became like this, why an academic would make such a choice and how he feels toward the thousands of people he has killed around the Middle East. Then I’ll make sure he gets punished,” Maj. Bakr (a pseudonym), a member of the elite Iraqi counterterrorist unit the Falcon Brigade, said.

Iraqi forces had him in their crosshairs on Nov. 8, 2014, but an airstrike came too late and a wounded Baghdadi, 44, managed to slip across the Syrian border. The self-styled caliph now travels secretly and has avoided the public eye, apart from his infamous Friday sermons at a mosque in Mosul. While seclusion has only raised his profile, Baghdadi’s origins remain wreathed in more mystery than his movements. [Continue reading…]

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