The world's most dangerous terrorist, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is on the run. The self declared Caliph has problems galore as he is on the verge of losing both Mosul and Raqa.
The chief of the Islamic State has gone into hiding since the past month. He has no territory to control and neither does have land to rule. This technically would mean that he cannot call himself a Caliph any longer.
It was exactly a year back news of his death had surfaced. It was for the fifth time that such a news had been floated. There was never any official confirmation regarding the news. Later it was found that it was part of the strategy to hoodwink the security forces.
Bhagdadi realises that he is unable to hold on to the territory which he battled and taken over. The ISIS which stormed both Iraq and Syria made some immense gains at first.
However off late they have been losing considerable ground in both countries. In the recent past they have relied very heavily on propaganda than actual war on the ground which itself is a signal that there is something amiss where their commander is concerned.
While in hiding, Baghdadi has other concerns as well. There is a 25,000 million dollar bounty on his head announced by the US. There is every chance that someone around him may betray him and claim the bounty. Baghdadi's supporters too are fast shrinking.
The bounty according to experts makes matters complicated. It restricts their movements and they have to be on the watch to ensure that they are not betrayed. Experts in Iraq say that after the bounty had been announced, Baghdadi would not stay in place for more than 72 hours. Moreover he has also started trusting completely his inner circle.
In March 2017, Baghdadi had even issued a farewell speech. A statement by Baghdadi titled Farewell Speech was distributed among all the preachers, clerics and fighters. "Return to your countries or detonate yourselves," was the message he had in his statement.
He issued the statement after the Iraqi army strengthened its position at Mosul.
Bhaghdadi while ordering the closure of the ISIS office, gave the non-Arab fighters two options while promising them 72 virgins in heaven. He said they must either return to their home country or detonate themselves.
Experts and analysts said that one must not consider the farewell speech as a retreat. The dangerous signs that one gets from the speech is where the self declared Caliph tells the fighters to return home. Over the past year, Baghdadi had directed his fighters several times to return to their home country and carry out lone-wolf attacks.
Who could succeed Baghdadi?
There are 8 persons who are in the wait list. They are Abu Alaa al-Afri who was once an Osama Bin Laden loyalist. He is second in command today in the ISIS, but according to the Shura Council he has no lineage to the Prophet.
Abdullah Alani who claims to have a lineage to the Prophet is next. A religious scholar, Alani is also part of the Shura Council.
Abu Ali al-Anbari, the head of the ISIS security council is another candidate. He was also part of the intelligence in the Saddam Hussein military regime.
Abdul Rahman al-Talabani, head of the religious committee.
Abu Atheer al-Absi, head of the media committee.
Nima abd Naif al-Jubury, head of the military committee.
Abu Bakr al-Khatooni, head of the Shura committee
Abu Omar al-Shishani a military commander.