Daesh leader Baghdadi almost certainly alive — Kurdish security official

(FILES) This file photo shows an image grab taken from a propaganda video released on July 5, 2014 by al-Furqan Media allegedly showing the leader of the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, aka Caliph Ibrahim, adressing Muslim worshippers at a mosque in the militant-held northern Iraqi city of Mosul. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said on July 11, 2017 it had information from top Islamic State group leaders confirming the death of the jihadist organisation's chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. (AFP)
Updated 17 July 2017
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Daesh leader Baghdadi almost certainly alive — Kurdish security official

IRAQ: A top Kurdish counter-terrorism official said on Monday he was 99 percent sure that Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi was alive and located south of the Syrian city of Raqqa, after reports that he had been killed.
“Baghdadi is definitely alive. He is not dead. We have information that he is alive. We believe 99 percent he is alive,” Lahur Talabany told Reuters in an interview.
“Don’t forget his roots go back to Al-Qaeda days in Iraq. He was hiding from security services. He knows what he is doing.”
Iraqi security forces have ended three years of Daesh rule in the Iraqi city of Mosul, and the group is under growing pressure in Raqqa — both strongholds in the militants’ crumbling self-proclaimed caliphate.
Still, Talabany said Daesh was shifting tactics despite low morale and it would take three or four years to eliminate the group.
After defeat, Daesh would wage an insurgency and resemble Al-Qaeda on “steroids,” he said.
The future leaders of Daesh were expected to be intelligence officers who served under former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, the men credited with devising the group’s strategy.


Minister’s ouster unlikely to slow Sudan’s push to get off US ‘terror’ list

Updated 20 April 2018
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Minister’s ouster unlikely to slow Sudan’s push to get off US ‘terror’ list

  • Ghandour was fired a day after he said in parliament that Sudanese diplomats abroad had not been paid in months.
  • Analysts say his sacking is not expected to derail ties between Khartoum and Washington.

Khartoum: President Omar Al-Bashir’s dismissal of Sudan’s foreign minister, Khartoum’s top negotiator with Washington, is unlikely to affect efforts to have Khartoum removed from a US “terrorism” blacklist, experts say.
On Thursday, Bashir sacked Ibrahim Ghandour, who headed negotiations with Washington that in October helped lift a decades-old US trade embargo on Khartoum.
His dismissal comes amid an economic crisis in the African country and his replacement, who has yet to be named, is set to inherit a complicated case load.
Ghandour, the first official to publicly raise concerns over Sudan’s economic crisis, was fired a day after he said in parliament that Sudanese diplomats abroad had not been paid in months.
But analysts say his sacking is not expected to derail ties between Khartoum and Washington, which have warmed since the sanctions were lifted.
“Ghandour’s loss will be felt, but his going won’t change Khartoum’s policy direction,” Magnus Taylor, Sudan analyst at the International Crisis Group, told AFP.
By dismissing Ghandour, Khartoum is not changing its “moderate” policy toward Washington, he said.
“Generally, Sudanese are focused on getting themselves out of the SSTL,” Taylor said, referring to Washington’s State Sponsors of Terrorism List.
Although Washington lifted sanctions imposed in 1997 over Khartoum’s alleged support of militant groups, it has kept Sudan on the blacklist along with Iran, Syria and North Korea.
Officials say the US terror tag prevents international banks from doing business with Khartoum, in turn hampering Sudan’s economic revival.
Ghandour had been pushing for Khartoum’s removal from the blacklist in a bid to obtain much needed foreign loans.
“He was useful for negotiations with the US because people thought they can deal with him as he was reasonable, eloquent and intelligent,” Taylor said.
“But Sudan will bring someone else who can do that kind of job.”