Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) and arguably the world’s most wanted man, killed himself during a raid by US commandos in north-western Syria, President Donald Trump has said.
The self-styled “Caliph Ibrahim” had a $25m (£19m) bounty on his head and had been pursued by the US and its allies since the rise of IS five years ago.
At its peak, IS controlled 88,000 sq km (34,000 sq miles) of territory stretching from western Syria to eastern Iraq, imposed its brutal rule on almost eight million people, and generated billions of dollars in revenue from oil, extortion and kidnapping.
But despite the demise of its physical caliphate and its leader, IS remains a battle-hardened and well-disciplined force whose enduring defeat is not assured.
Baghdadi – whose real name is Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim al-Badri – was born in 1971 in the central Iraqi city of Samarra.
His religious Sunni Arab family claimed to be descended from the Prophet Muhammad’s Quraysh tribe – something generally held by pre-modern Sunni scholars as being a key qualification for becoming a caliph.
As a teenager, he was nicknamed “the believer” by relatives because of the time he spent at the local mosque learning how to recite the Koran and because he would often chastise those failing to abide by Islamic law, or Sharia.