ISIS leader Baghdadi reportedly immobilised by spinal injuries

The Islamic State's leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi is receiving treatment from two doctors for spinal injuries in his Iraqi hideout after a coalition air strike two months ago, sources have told the Guardian.

Dr Hisham al Hashimi, the adviser to the Iraqi government on ISIS, revealed to Newsweek last week that the self-proclaimed caliph had been temporarily replaced by his deputy and a former physics teacher in Mosul, Abu Alaa Afri.

He was reported to have been seriously wounded in a coalition air strike on 18th March in al-Baaj 128km (80 miles) west of Mosul but the extent of these injuries remained unclear.

Now, sources have revealed that the pair of doctors travelled to Baghdadi's secret location from the ISIS stronghold of Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city which the group conquered last June, to treat him for injuries that have left him immobilised.

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The injuries are reported to be so severe that he may never again be able to direct the organisation on a day-to-day basis. The unnamed sources claim that the two doctors are a female radiologist and a male surgeon.

"The woman's sons work in the hospital," a Mosul resident with knowledge of the caliph's injuries told the newspaper. "They dress like Kandaharis and even carry guns inside. Both are on the regional health board."

"The man is not a renowned surgeon, but he is absolutely with [ISIS]. His daughter married a Salafist and said she was going to have as many children as she could to fight the enemies of Islam."

An ISIS insider also told The Guardian that the group are plotting their revenge on Europe for the coalition's attempt on Baghdadi's life. "They are planning to fight back against Europe," the ISIS member, speaking on condition of anonymity, said. "They want to take revenge for Baghdadi."

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On Baghdadi's replacement if his condition continues to deteriorate, Hashimi says that Afri is "more important, and smarter, and with better relationships".

"All the leaders of Daesh [Arabic term for ISIS] find that he has much jihadi wisdom, and good capability at leadership and administration," he added. "He will be the leader of Daesh if Baghdadi dies."

Afri, believed to be in his sixties, was a senior member of al-Qaeda in Iraq under the leadership of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi from 2004 and rose to become Baghdadi's deputy after acting as a link between the caliph and both his inner circle and his emirs in different wilayats (provinces) across the group's caliphate.

The terror group, who swept across Syria and Iraq to capture key towns and cities last summer, have suffered a number of setbacks as a result of the U.S.-led coalition's military campaign, being forced from the Syrian city of Kobane and losing the Sunni-majority city of Tikrit in Iraq.

ISIS leader Baghdadi reportedly immobilised by spinal injuries |