Baghdadi immobile: IS to ‘elect’ stand-in leader

Updated 11 May 2015

Baghdadi immobile: IS to ‘elect’ stand-in leader

BAGHDAD: The chief of the Islamic State militant group has reportedly been moved from Iraq to Syria amid tight security, militant defectors told US-based news site The Daily Beast in a report on Sunday.
The transfer of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi to the northern city of Raqqa, which is the capital of the group’s self-declared caliphate, comes two months after serious injuries that left his spine damaged and his left leg immobile.
In March, British media had reported that Baghdadi was wounded in an airstrike launched by the US-led coalition.
However, Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren had told The Daily Beast: “We have no reason to believe it was Baghdadi.”
A group of nine doctors was also transferred to the Syrian city to treat the leader who was moved after top commanders decided he would be safer in Raqqa than Mosul, where an Iraqi offensive is expected to start later this summer to recapture Iraq’s second largest city.
Although mentally alert and able to issue orders, Baghdadi’s wounds led the group’s religious governing Shoura Council to make a final decision on a momentary stand-in leader.
The substitute leader, who is expected to be under the rule of Baghdadi, will be a super deputy to the caliph, according to the news website.
He will be expected to travel back and forth between front-lines in Syria and Iraq and handle day-to-day leadership in the caliphate.
The name of the super deputy to the caliph is due to be announced this week by the Shoura Council.
Some names who emerged as potential contenders included Abu Ali Al-Anbari, a Mosul native and former major general in the Iraqi Army as well as former physics teacher, Abu Ala Al-Afri and the current Islamic State governor of Raqqa, Abu Luqman.


Trump wrote to Assad about journalist missing in Syria, says Pompeo

In this file photo taken on December 04, 2018, Marc and Debra Tice, the parents of US journalist Austin Tice (portrait L), who was abducted in Syria more than six years ago, speak at a press conference in Beirut. (AFP)
Updated 15 August 2020

Trump wrote to Assad about journalist missing in Syria, says Pompeo

  • In 2018, US authorities announced a $1 million reward for information that would lead to his recovery

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump personally wrote to his Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad about the case of journalist Austin Tice, who has been missing since 2012, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday.
“The US government has repeatedly attempted to engage Syrian officials to seek Austin’s release,” Pompeo said in a statement on the eighth anniversary of Tice’s disappearance.
“President Trump wrote to Bashar Assad in March to propose direct dialogue.”
Tice was a freelance photojournalist working for Agence France-Presse, McClatchy News, The Washington Post, CBS and other news organizations when he disappeared after being detained at a checkpoint near Damascus on Aug. 14, 2012.
Thirty-one years old at the time he was captured, Tice appeared blindfolded in the custody of an unidentified group of armed men in a video a month later.
Since then, there has been no official information on whether he is alive or dead.
In March, Trump said the United States had written a letter to authorities in Damascus, without specifying that he himself had written personally to Assad, who Washington wants out of power. At that time, Trump said he did not know if Tice was still alive.

HIGHLIGHT

Tice was a freelance photojournalist working for Agence France-Presse, McClatchy News, The Washington Post, CBS and other news organizations when he disappeared after being detained at a checkpoint near Damascus on Aug. 14, 2012.

“No one should doubt the president’s commitment to bringing home all US citizens held hostage or wrongfully detained overseas,” Pompeo said Friday.
“Nowhere is that determination stronger than in Austin Tice’s case.”
Pompeo said he and Trump hoped there would be “no need for another statement like this a year from now.”
“Austin Tice’s release and return home are long, long overdue. We will do our utmost to achieve that goal,” he added.
A year ago, the US government said it believed Tice was still alive.
His mother Debra Tice said in January that she had “credible information” to that effect, without elaborating.
In 2018, US authorities announced a $1 million reward for information that would lead to his recovery.