Iranian media might be the first to break news globally that the much wanted terrorist, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is ‘definitely dead’. Based on reports from Iran’s state news agency, it quoted a representative of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that “terrorist Baghdadi is definitely dead.” So far, the United States has not been able to confirm or deny the report. However, the whole free world would be able to sleep better if there was official confirmation of the ISIS leader having breathed his last. It remains to be seen whether he succumbed to a covert operation or wounds from an old attack.
Cleric Ali Shirazi, who is representative to the Quds Force, mentioned about Baghdadi’s demise to the IRNA without providing any further elaboration or proof. The Quds Force comprises of people who are in charge of operations located outside of Iran's borders, with the country's elite Revolutionary Guard Corps helming it. Other Iranian Foreign Ministry officials remain unavailable for comment concerning the report that Baghdadi has died. According to Russia, they might have been the ones who have killed the ISIS leader, although the rest of the West maintains a skeptical view on that claim.
This is not the first time that the extremely secretive Islamic State leader has been the subject matter of news reports of being killed or wounded, as there were other instances in the past that delivered false hope. However, the world is pleased to know that the amount of land controlled by ISIS fighters have shrunk by a large percentage ever since Baghdadi declared a caliphate to rule over all Muslims from a mosque in Mosul, Iraq, three years ago.
It will take a lot of international cooperation and intervention in order to verify the authenticity of this report by Iranian media. Back when Osama bin Laden was declared by the United States to have been killed and his body disposed off in an undisclosed segment of the sea, the world was in a surreal shock, as Osama bin Laden had been a rather difficult target to hunt down and track, knowing that he is one of the most wanted people in the whole word after orchestrating the 9/11 attacks.
Assuming Baghdadi is ‘definitely dead’, many other questions arise. How did Baghdadi die? Was he killed by a drone operation, or did they send in operatives to kill him? If he is dead, what has happened to his body? Some might see this to be a propaganda tool, as the Shiite-majority Iran continues to wage a war of ideas against majority of the Sunni countries in the Islamic world. Having gotten rid of ISIS leader Baghdadi can be seen to be a ‘favor’ that is extended to the whole world, and it might just make the reception of Shiite Muslims easier elsewhere.
It would be good if other intelligence agencies from various countries around the world start to step up on the verification of Baghdadi’s death. It is all too easy for Baghdadi to dismiss reports of his demise by actually showing up in a new video recording, but then again, that might be disputed to be a pre-recorded video to keep the flagging morale of ISIS loyalists going. The ISIS ideology can be a rather difficult one to uproot, and getting rid of the head of the ‘snake’, as is the case here, might just cause a momentary halt before things resume normally as before.
The confirmed death of Baghdadi would definitely be a moment of triumph for the free world, and everyone who would like to live in peace with one another. It is hoped that something concrete appears to show proof of Baghdadi’s death rather than a mere statement. Baghdadi's wife and son were arrested at the Lebanon border a few years ago.