In last days, Baghdadi sought safety in shrinking domain

Associates say in his last months on the run, Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was agitated, fearful of traitors, sometimes disguised as a shepherd, sometimes hiding underground, always dependent on a shrinking circle of confidants.

For months, Baghdadi also kept a Yazidi teen as a slave, and she told the Associated Press how he brought her along as he moved.

Syrians ride a motorcycle past a burnt vehicle near the site where a helicopter gunfire reportedly killed nine people, including Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, near the northwestern Syrian village of Barisha in the Idlib province along the border with Turkey, October 27, 2019. (Photo by Omar HAJ KADOUR / AFP)

The reports paint a picture of a man trying to find safety as the extremists’ domains crumbled. In the end, the brutal leader once hailed as “caliph” left former IS areas completely, slipping into hostile territory in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province run by the radical group’s al-Qaeda-linked rivals. There, he blew himself up during an October 26 raid by US special forces on his heavily fortified safe house.

— AP