ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s hideout has been narrowed down to four sites after the jihadis released a video of him, the Iraqi government has said.
The world’s most wanted terrorist was seen for the first time in five years in an 18 minute recording in which he talks about the end of the Islamic State caliphate.
The 47-year-old can apparently be heard name-checking the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka as revenge for their losses in the Syrian city of Baghouz in a speech to his closest followers.
Iraqi terror mastermind Baghdadi is believed to be hiding out in an isolated area of either Iraq or Syria – once part of the huge swathe of territory ISIS once controlled.
The jihadists are now waging regular insurgent-style attacks against security forces in both countries.
Hisham al-Hashemi, a security adviser to the Iraqi government, said officials had narrowed his whereabouts from 17 to four possible locations.
These are in the desert of Iraq's Anbar province or in the eastern desert of Homs in Syria, he said.
Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi said Islamic State's capabilities had "greatly reduced" but that the group still posed a threat.
"Regarding the location of Baghdadi, we can't give intelligence information right now but it's clear from the video that he's in a remote area," he said.
According to terrorism expert Dr Paul Stott, from the Henry Jackson Society, the background in the video is unlikely to provide clues to his location.
Instead, an electronic foot print or the behaviour of his followers are more likely to lead to the jihadi.
“What we most likely have is an eight day window between the Easter Sunday attacks, and the video being uploaded," he told The Sun Online.
“If they have a lead, it is either via the upload, or what people have been doing in that eight day period.
“If particular groups of people under surveillance by the authorities have been missing in that eight day period, if they were travelling in convoy or behaving differently, that could be a sign of when or where this video was made.”
The US Department of Justice has a $25 million bounty on al-Baghdadi’s head.
He was said to have been seriously wounded in an air strike in 2015 and he has dodged several other attempts to kill him.
The ISIS leader was also reportedly killed in an airstrike in Raqqa in 2o17.
In October last year, it was claimed he had been killed in a Russian airstrike on a Syrian village.
Al-Baghdadi remains a top target for the Central Intelligence Agency and US military’s elite Joint Special Operations Command, which includes the US Navy’s SEAL Team 6.
In February, 2019, it was reported that Al-Baghdadi was hiding out in deserts in eastern Syria after successfully fleeing an attempted coup from militants to seize control of ISIS.
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