A new theory on the whereabouts of ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Bagdadi is emerging, according to nearly half a dozen U.S. officials CNN has spoken with across several government departments.
While it’s still possible that the U.S.’s most wanted man continues to be hunkered down inside the self-declared ISIS capitol of Raqqa, Syria, a more recent analysis potentially puts Baghdadi in constant motion as he attempts to avoid being killed or captured by anti-ISIS coalition forces.
“We have no reason to believe that Baghdadi’s not still alive, but we have not heard from him since the end of last year,” U.S. Special Envoy Brett McGurk said Friday, referring to an audio tape that surfaced online in December.
U.S. officials agree on two initial points. First, they don’t know exactly where he is, and if they did, they would attack his location either from the ground or air if they could.
Second, Baghdadi is practicing, in the words of one official, “extraordinary operational security” to keep his location secret.
For months, the general theory has been that he’s hiding in one of several buildings in or near the center of Raqqa. In fact, officials have described to CNN one potential target: a building that they believe at some point had a jail inside of it.
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