The end of Daesh “ghost” Baghdadi
A US special forces raid in Barisha, north-western Syria, targeted Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, killing him along with eight others.
Baghdadi was one of the most wanted terrorists, especially after the emergence of Daesh in Iraq and Syria in 2014.
The jihadist group imposed a brutal rule on almost eight million people and was behind many terrorist attacks around the world.
Baghdadi, whose real name was Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim al-Badri, was born near Samarra, north of Baghdad, in 1971, and reports suggest he was a cleric in a mosque in the city around the time of the US-led invasion in 2003.
He graduated from the University of Baghdad in 1996 and received a master’s degree in Koranic recitation from the Saddam University for Islamic Studies in 1999.
By 2003, he was well on his way to a doctorate and a shot at a full professorship. However, after U.S. troops invaded Iraq that year, he signed up with a local resistance movement, explaining afterward that he did so as a religious duty. It would take four more years, until 2007, before he returned to school to defend his dissertation, also in Koranic recitation.
He was arrested in the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2004 and, in a fateful turn, landed at the notorious and now-defunct Camp Bucca prison, which served at times as a recruitment and training center for jihadists.
Baghdadi, as then began to call himself, forged a number of important alliances in the camp, befriending several members of the terrorist network run by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian who founded al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Two of Baghdadi’s uncles served in Saddam’s security services, and one of his brothers became an officer in the army. Another brother who served in the military died during the grueling eight-year war that Iraq fought against Iran in the 1980s.
Between 2005 and 2009, al-Baghdadi was arrested and deported by US forces to Abu Ghraib prison, where he spread the foundations of his alleged caliphate.
His infamous declaration of his caliphate from the Al-Nuri Mosque in Iraq's Mosul unleashed a wave of violence that has since killed thousands of civilians, displaced millions more and drawn world powers into the region's conflicts.
Daesh began his first operations in Baghdad when its militants broke into around eight prisons and freed more than 500 inmates, with the majority belonging to al-Qaeda.