According to undercover agents inside the Islamic State, the terrorist group’s mysterious leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is in an “intemperate” state these days as the U.S.-backed Iraqi soldiers close in on Mosul. Reuters reported this weekend that Baghdadi is so paranoid that he has begun wearing his suicide vest to bed just in case he is captured in his sleep.
He “has cut down on his movements and neglects his appearance,” the source said. “He lives underground and has tunnels that stretch to different areas. He doesn’t sleep without his suicide bomber vest so he can set it off if he’s captured.”
Reuters was given access to texts coming from inside the Islamic State. They described a caliphate in chaos, with paranoia coloring the Baghdadi inner circle:
Defectors or informants were being regularly executed, the person texted. Baghdadi, who declared himself the caliph of a huge swathe of Iraq and Syria two years ago, had become especially suspicious of people close to him. “Sometimes he used to joke around,” one text said. “But now he no longer does.”
Kurdish agents inside ISIS say that the terrorist group is gearing up for a final stand in Iraq, which may be bloody. Hindering their response is an increasing focus on traitors within the ranks. In recent days, ISIS leaders have ordered many dozens of executions as they root out plot after plot to overthrow Baghdadi.
In October, ISIS leaders uncovered one such coup when a security official found a SIM card that showed an ISIS commander sharing intelligence with U.S. and Kurdish forces. “Retribution was brutal,” Reuters wrote. “Islamic State killed 58 suspected plotters by placing them in cages and drowning them, according to residents and Iraqi officials.”
Even if Iraqi forces succeed in liberating Mosul from the Islamic State, the terrorists will still hold onto their fortress in Syria. And they will still have a propaganda arm that inspires loyal jihadists to carry out attacks on the West. Obama wants this victory on his resume, and that’s fine. Hopefully he’ll get it. But the larger threat of ISIS and Islamic terrorism will not die with Iraq…or even Baghdadi himself.