Top US commander: No evidence ISIS’s leader Baghdadi is still alive

Abu Bakr al Baghdadi ISIS
A man purported to be the reclusive leader of the militant Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi making what would have been his first public appearance in 2014. Social Media Website via Reuters TV

The top military commander leading the US fight against ISIS says there is no evidence that its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is alive, Politico reported.

While Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told Reuters on Tuesday that it had “confirmed information” that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been killed, ISIS itself has also not released any statements as they have when high-profile militants have been killed in the past.

Shy of confirming the death, Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend told a group of reporters that there was no evidence to suggest that al-Baghdadi, who once led ISIS fights to capture entire cities in Iraq and Syria, is alive.

“I really don’t know. … I don’t have reason to believe that he’s alive. I don’t have proof of life,” Townsend said.

Last month, al-Baghdadi went into hiding after the US offered a $US25 million reward to anyone able to bring him to justice. While his death would mark a significant step in ISIS’ reported loss of a stronghold in Syria and Iraq, national security strategist Fred Kagan told Politico that it would not mean that the danger of the terrorist group has passed.