A man purported to be the reclusive leader of the militant Islamic State Abu Bakr al Baghdadi made a rare public appearance at a mosque in the center of Mosul, on July 5, 2014..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The head of international terrorist organization Islamic State is still alive and remains in charge of the murderous militant group, AFP reported Friday, citing officials in the US Pentagon.
Despite efforts by the United States and its coalition partners to kill the ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been able to operate his terrorist organization, keeping a low-profile, all the while doling out orders to his top surrogates.
Baghdadi was last heard only a month ago when audio of the terrorist commander surfaced - containing a pronouncement declaring himself the leader of a renewed Muslim caliphate. Baghdadi can also be heard urging his supporters to defend the city of Mosul, which the Iraqi Army is currently fighting to recapture.
Mosul was first seized by ISIS in 2014, shortly after the group began snatching up large swaths of territory in northern Iraq and eastern Syria.
"We do think Baghdadi is alive and is still leading [ISIS] and we are obviously doing everything we can to track his movements," said Pentagon Spokesperson Peter Cook.
"If we get the opportunity, we certainly would take advantage of any opportunity to deliver him the justice he deserves."
"We're doing everything we can. This is something we're spending a lot of time on," he added.
Cook later stated that Baghdadi was most likely in hiding due to US-coalition efforts that have seen numerous Islamic State leaders perish over the past year.
"He's having a hard time finding advisers and confidants to speak with because a lot of them are no longer with us," the spokesman said.
According to AFP, citing official Iraqi documents, Baghdadi was born in Samarra in 1971. He later joined the Iraqi insurgency that arose after America's invasion of the Middle Eastern country in 2003.
The United States recently announced it has increased its reward offer for Baghdadi's head to $25 million.