Reuters news agency reports today that as the Islamic State loses their twin capitals in Mosul, Iraq and Raqqa, Syria, their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has left the population centers for the vast desert between the two. According to Hisham al-Hashimi who advises Middle East governments on Islamic State affairs stated one of Baghdadi’s main concerns is to ensure those around him do not betray him for the $25 million reward offered by the United States for his death or capture. Hashimi also said, “With no land to rule openly, he can no longer claim the title caliph. He is a man on the run and the number of his supporters is shrinking as they lose territory.”
Iraqi forces have retaken much of Mosul, the northern Iraqi city the Islamic State seized in June 2014. Baghdadi declared himself “caliph” or leader of all Muslims shortly afterwards at the medieval Grand al-Nuri mosque. Raqqa, his capital in Syria, is nearly surrounded by a coalition of Syrian Kurdish and Arab groups. Born Ibrahim al-Samarrai, Baghdadi is a 46-year-old Iraqi who broke away from al-Qaeda in 2013, two years after the capture and killing of the group’s leader Osama bin Laden.
Reuters report found here.