An image showing a corpse that looks like Islamic State organisation leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi has been making the rounds online over the past few days. However, it is fake: Al-Baghdadi’s face has been photoshopped onto another man’s body.
Rumours that Al-Baghdadi had been killed began circulating after the Iraqi Defence Ministry said one of his top aides had been killed in an airstrike in northern Iraq. (It remains unclear whether this strike was carried out by Iraqi or US forces). This rumour was quickly denied by the Pentagon: "There is no validity to the rumour that we've killed Baghdadi," The Daily Beast quoted a senior official as saying.
The image allegedly showing Al-Baghdadi’s corpse first popped up on a Facebook page that has since been deleted, before being widely relayed on different social media sites and on Iraqi news sites. However, close inspection shows that it is actually a photomontage. A photo of a corpse that was published on an online forum back in August 2013, and which is said to show an ethnic Albanian militant who was killed in Syria last year, was used for the body. The position of his hands, the patterns on his shirt, the feet to his left, and the shadows all match perfectly with the supposed photo of Al-Baghdadi. Those who photoshopped the image simply added the jihadist leader’s face as well as a watch on the man’s right arm.The addition of the watch likely stems from the fact that Al-Baghdadi has in the past been seen wearing what looks like a Rolex.
This is not the first time that rumours have swirled regarding Al-Baghdadi’s death. In July, the Islamic State released a video showing him preaching at a mosque in Mosul after claims were made that he had been injured or even killed in an attack.