ISIS Says Leader Baghdadi's Son Killed in Syria Suicide Attack Against Army and Russians

The Islamic State militant group (ISIS) announced Tuesday that the son of its elusive leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has died in a suicide attack in the Homs province of Syria.

In a graphic released through official ISIS channels on Telegram, the jihadi group announced the death of Hudhayfah al-Badri, who shares the same birth surname as his father, Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim al-Badri, better known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The graphic and accompanying statement were attributed to ISIS' Homs branch, Wilayah Hims, which said the son of the ISIS leader, or "khalifah," was killed battling supporters of the Syrian government.

It described Hudhayfah as being killed during an "inghimasi" operation—a term that refers to jihadis that charge enemy lines with the intent of doing maximum damage—against the "nusayriyyah," a term used by ultraconservative Sunni Muslims such as ISIS followers to describe the Alawites, a Shiite Muslim sect to which Syrian President Bashar al-Assad belongs, and Russians, which back Assad's government.

"Hudhayfah al-Badri (May Allah accept him), the son of the Khalifah (May Allah safeguard him), He was killed in an inghimasi operation against the nusayriyyah, and the Russians at the thermal power station in Hims Wilayah," the message read, accompanied by a photo of a young boy armed with a Kalashnikov-style assault rifle.

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An image shared by ISIS' Homs branch, Wilayah Hims, purports to show ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's son, Hudhayfah al-Badri, who the group said was killed in a suicide operation against pro-Syrian government forces and Russians in Homs, Syria, July 3, 2018. Social Media

Little is known about Baghdadi and his family. He is believed to have been born in the Iraqi city of Samarra, and some reports described his full name as ending in al-Samarrai, indicating roots to the ancient city. A year after the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, Baghdadi was arrested by U.S. forces and sent to the infamous Camp Bucca, where a number of future jihadis were detained as a violent Sunni Muslim insurgency gripped the country.

In 2010, he became head of the former Al-Qaeda in Iraq, renamed the Islamic State of Iraq after a 2006 merger. He took advantage of unrest in Syria following a 2011 uprising backed by the West, Turkey and Gulf Arab states to spread to the neighboring country in 2013, renaming the group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (or the Sham, Arabic for the Levant). The following year he made his only known public appearance as leader by declaring ISIS a global network known simply as the Islamic State.

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Since then, Baghdadi has not been seen and the caliphate that in 2014 spanned half of Iraq and Syria has been beaten back by both countries' militaries, a U.S.-led coalition and other local and foreign powers of various allegiances. ISIS released a 46-minute audio message in September purporting it to be a recording of the absent chief.

Numerous reports have emerged suggesting Baghdadi has been killed or severely injured, but none have been confirmed. U.S. and Iraqi officials have reportedly suggested he may still be hiding in a shrinking pocket of ISIS control in Syria's far east, where both the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces and the Syrian military, backed by Russia and Iran, are clearing out the last of the jihadis.