ISIS Has No Territory, But Leader Baghdadi Remains Elusive

Officials still hope they'll eventually capture him

With the fall of the last of ISIS’ territory, the big question remains: just how many ISIS members are in Iraq and Syria anymore? It’s not clear anyone has the answer, but if anyone does, it would be ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Which is a whole additional problem. After years of speculation that he’d been killed or wounded, there is no sign of Baghdadi anywhere, and Iraqi intelligence officials say that they believe he is alive and well.

That’s a two-fold issue, because it leaves the most high-profile ISIS member on the streets and active, and officials believe that he is the one person who would have all the intelligence they really need to act against the group.

The reality is that Baghdadi is liable to be anywhere, disguised as anyone, and hiding with almost anyone. All the previous claims of his death that didn’t pan out show that intelligence on his day-to-day activities isn’t great, and his fate may be uncertain long after the war is realistically over.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of