Professor, Footballer, 9 other interesting facts about dead ISIS leader al-Baghdadi

by on October 27, 2019

The death of ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been confirmed by the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump.

Al-Baghdadi led his three children to death, detonating his suicide vest, which brought the tunnel they were in down around them.

The former ISIS was trying to evade a raid by US forces in north-west Syria when he took his life.

“He was an animal and he was a gutless animal…It’s a great day for our country,” Trump said as he broke news of Baghdadi’s death.

Listed below are eleven facts you may not know about the ISIS leader who was known to be a big fan of football.

1) Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was the son of a Quranic teacher who was described as “withdrawn, taciturn and, when he spoke, barely audible.”

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2) At a young age, Baghdadi was known as ‘the Believer’, according to a 2015 profile by Brookings, and spent most of his time in the local mosque.

3) He was also known as a keen footballer, referred to by others on his team at the local mosque as ‘our Messi’, after the star Argentinian football player, Lionel Messi.

4) He studied Quranic recitation at the Saddam University for Islamic Studies, a highly selective programme in Baghdad and went on to study for a doctorate.

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5) During his time at university he joined the Muslim Brotherhood, a pan-Arab movement that seeks to establish states based on Islamic law which was then – as now – banned in many states.


6) Baghdadi later gravitated towards the more extreme side of the Brotherhood in Baghdad, which was dominated by Salafis, Islamist hardliners dedicated to a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

7) After the U.S. invasion to unseat Saddam Hussein in 2003, Baghdadi fell in with the Sunni militias that were formed in the chaos of post-war Iraq to fight the American occupation.

8) He was jailed at Camp Bucca in 2004 and, while inside, made a name for himself as a preacher and footballer in the prison yard – this time gaining the nickname of ‘Maradona,” according to a detailed profile of Baghdadi by Al Monitor.

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9) During his tine in Camp Bucca, he established ties with al-Qaeda in Iraq and many of the men who would go in to become leading figures in its offshoot, the Isalmic State of Iraq.

10) In 2010, when the leaders of the group were killed in an air strike, Baghdadi became its leader.

11) In 2011, he expanded the group into Syria, changing its name to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.

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