Friday, December 16, 2016

US Increases Reward on IS Leader to $25 Million

The United States has more than doubled — to $25 million — the reward for information leading to the capture of Islamic State leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The U.S. State Department’s Rewards for Justice program announced the increase Friday from $10 million, saying the threat Baghdadi poses has increased significantly in recent years. The reward will be paid to anyone who can offer “information leading to the location, arrest or conviction” of the militant.

“Under al-Baghdadi, ISIL has been responsible for the deaths of thousands of civilians in the Middle East, including the brutal murder of numerous civilian hostages from Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States,” the State Department said, using an acronym for Islamic State.

It said Islamic State also has “enabled or directed terrorist attacks beyond the borders of its self-declared caliphate.”

Baghdadi declared himself the leader of a Muslim caliphate two years ago. He generally keeps a low profile, but last month he released an audio message urging his supports to defend the Islamic State-held city of Mosul, Iraq.

Baghdadi’s location is not known, but some believe he could be in Mosul or in territory outside the city, near the border with Syria.

Officials believe that the coalition military assault on Mosul could cause Baghdadi or his top officials to move around to remain hidden.

Baghdadi has been reported injured or dead multiple times, but the claims have never been verified.

In a statement released to the media in early July 2014, Baghdadi widely condemned the West and summoned all Muslims, especially those with military, medical, administrative and public service experience, to emigrate to the caliphate to “take up arms … and fight, fight!”

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