Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: How an ordinary Baghdad boy became ISIS chief

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Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi – the ISIS chief, reported dead, has held horror fascination for the world. Global media has been tracking him, trying to piece together a picture of this wanted man.

Here’s what they have been saying:

The Telegraph –  How a talented footballer became world’s most wanted man

The only time the polite, bespectacled student shone was on the football field, playing for the team from the local mosque.

“He was the Messi of our team,” said Abu Ali, a fellow player and worshipper at the mosque, making comparison with the Lionel Messi, the Argentinian striker. “He was our best player.”

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the impressive striker, is now the world’s most wanted jihadist leader.

In interviews with the Telegraph, contemporaries of Baghdadi trace how he went from being a shy, unimpressive, religious scholar and man who eschewed violence, to an infamously dangerous extremist, self-appointed caliph and reputed heir to Osama bin Laden.

Read the entire Telegraph report here

BBC News – Profile: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Before appearing in a video delivering a sermon in Mosul in July, there were only two authenticated photos of him. Even his own fighters reportedly do not speak about seeing him face to face.

The ISIS chief also appears to wear a mask to address his commanders, earning the nickname “the invisible sheikh”.

But Baghdadi – a nom de guerre, rather than his real name – has good reason to maintain a veil of mystery, says the BBC’s Security Correspondent, Frank Gardner.

Read the entire BBC report here

Forbes – Self-proclaimed caliph, Islamic State in Iraq and Syria

As the self-proclaimed caliph of a largely-theoretical pan-Islamic state, al-Baghdadi might appear to be the weakest new member of our list of the World’s Most Powerful — especially if you judge by his probable life-expectancy.

But in a remarkably short period of time, al-Baghdadi’s ISIS fighters have seized significant portions of eastern Syria and western Iraq, commandeered the planet’s attention with a series of barbaric beheadings and earned non-negligible amounts of cash, largely through black-market oil sales said to total $1 million a day.

He has gotten our attention — and also that of the people at the very top of this list.

Read the Forbes article here

The New York Times – The Man Who Drew the U.S. Back to Iraq

A look at Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the leader of the militant group ISIS, which now rivals Al Qaeda in power and popularity.

The Guardian – Who is Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi?

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is the mysterious leader of Islamic State (Isis), the militant group that has seized swathes of Syria and Iraq since June.