Following reports by Iranian and Iraqi media that Islamic State leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had suffered critical injuries in Iraq, unsubstantiated rumors have now surfaced that al-Baghdadi has been declared “clinically dead” by Israeli physicians in the Golan Heights.
Iran’s state FARS news, quoting two Iraqi media outlets, claimed that the spiritual and military leader of the self-styled caliphate had been injured in Western Iraq during an assault by Iraqi and Shi’ite forces on March 18 and that he had somehow been transferred to the Israeli Golan Heights, where surgeons and physicians had declared him clinically dead.
However, various claims of how exactly al-Baghdadi was injured last month have rendered the truth elusive. In March, the British daily, the Guardian quoted an Iraqi political adviser, Hisham al-Hashimi, and an unnamed Western diplomat as claiming that al-Baghdadi suffered life-threatening injuries during a US airstrike in the Nineveh region, close to the Syrian border.
A Pentagon official, Army Colonel Steven Warren, swiftly denied that al-Baghdadi had been the target of any strike, however, telling the Daily Beast that there is “no reason to believe it was Baghdadi” who was hit by the war plane’s payload.
In any case, the encounter apparently left him mortally wounded and unable to resume his post, a position that has been allegedly filled by a new shady figure, al-Baghdadi’s successor, Abdul Rahman al-Sheijlar, also called Abu Ala Afri.
According to al-Hashimi, Afri had been a physics teacher and established academic who had penned multiple publications on topics ranging from science to religion. He had had joined al-Qaida after the American invasion however, an supervised its Iraqi branch, known as al-Qaida in Mesopotamia.
Reports from the Iranian and Iraqi media have also suggested that following the decline in al-Baghdadi’s health, infighting and disputes have arisen among various factions in the Islamic State group with the group’s Syria branch expressing dissatisfaction with the choice of the new leader.