Was there a softer side to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi?

Lots of the obituaries of the ISIS tyrant seem to think so…


Topics Politics USA World

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Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State, was confirmed dead at the weekend. When US forces found him, Baghdadi killed himself and his three children by detonating a suicide vest.

Baghdadi and his caliphate were responsible for countless atrocities: mass murder across the globe and the attempted genocide, mass rape and torture of minorities and dissenters in the Middle East.

But some obituaries have pointed to another side of Baghdadi.

A Washington Post headline first (rightly) described him as ‘Islamic State’s terrorist-in-chief’. This was then changed to the rather more flattering ‘austere religious scholar’.

— Yashar Ali ? (@yashar) October 27, 2019

The Times drew attention to Baghdadi’s sporting prowess and studiousness, describing him as a ‘promising young footballer and student of the Koran’.

Bloomberg told a rags-to-riches story of ‘a little-known teacher of Koranic recitation’ who transformed himself into the ‘self-proclaimed ruler of an entity that covered swaths of Syria and Iraq’.

Do we really live in a world of such moral uncertainty that we can’t even say the leader of ISIS was unequivocally evil?

Picture by: Thierry Ehrmann, published under a creative commons licence

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Topics Politics USA World


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