Amid ISIS’ defeat in the Iraqi city of Mosul and ongoing fighting in its self-declared capital in Raqqa, Syria, the fate of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, remains unknown.
Russia said in late June that it believed he had been killed in a bombing raid on Raqqa, but earlier this week Moscow admitted that it was unable to confirm the death and said it was getting contradictory information.
Despite an observer group sayingBaghdadi has been killed, Defense Secretary James Mattis and other US commanders are skeptical.
“I think Baghdadi’s alive,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon on Friday, according to Military Times. Mattis has made similar statements before, and he told reporters that absent evidence Baghdadi was still commanding ISIS, it was possible he was acting in a religious or propaganda role for the terrorist group.