Who is the Leader of ISIS in Iraq?
His real name Ibrahim Awwad al-Badri al-Samarrai. His "working name" since 2010, is Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi. His hometown is Baghdad and Samarra. As a kid, he grew up in Samarra, recently seized by ISIS. His college years were spent in Baghdad while he was getting his master degree. He was not rich but always poor. Even in college, his professors gave him cash handouts who liked him. He graduated with a degree in Islamic Studies and was a cleric in pre-US invasion days of 1997. He was born in 1971.
Ironically, he was in US custody in 2005 at Camp Bucca and held until 2009 when released. Today, the US has put a bounty on his head amounting to $10 million and there are only a few photos of him without his mask. In a sense, he is an Iraqi Zorro. Even his own men, seldom see his actual face. In 2012, the Iraqis thought they had captured him again, but it was not the case.
The man is vehemently anti-US or West or anyone that does not Sharia law. He is ruthless while he presided as judge in a small town. His military experience was learned in over eight years of war against the Americans and basically be promoted through al-Qaeda ranks. Unlike other al-Qaeda ideology conducting terrorist attacks on random civilians, ISIS, is out to gain territory to establish its own country carved out of Iraq and Syria. This is an appeal to many jihadists rather than just lofty ideas about jihad. When they seize a town or city, they create a new government using existing councils and fear. They repair and build new infrastructure.
ISIS is now very well funded. After the collapse of Mosul, ISIS also stole over half of a billion dollars from the government bank there. When these places fall to ISIS, the residents are forced to pledge their allegiance to him..
He broke with al-Qaeda in 2013, or actually, al-Qaeda broke ties with him because of his domineering attitude and disagreements between them. He, with support from wealthy Arab states, created a viable army of 4-7,000 men. These forces in Syria were considered the "elite" forces of the Free Syrian Army and were the units who gave Assad the most challenge. They were far better trained and armed than the others. They still occupy and control large areas of Syria that Assad has no interest in or capability in retaking. Friction developed between the FSA and ISIS or al-Nusra, and soon, both began to attack one another at times. It was an uneasy alliance.
While al-Qaeda talks about creating their own country or state, ISIS is doing it through conquests and brutality. He is not unlike a Hitler, a Stalin, or any other ruthless leader bent on a mission that is well supported. His tactics are not that different than Hitler or Stalin in areas of conquest. In this case, it will be a true Islamic state practicing the strictest form of Islam.