Pakistani senator and former Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Sunday raised doubts about the death of Islamic State chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi during a United States military raid in Northwest Syria. Baghdadi’s death was announced by United States President Donald Trump.

“The death of Baghdadi has been reported by president of USA,” Malik when asked about Trump’s remarks. “I have not seen any confirmation yet from ISIS – I am happy if he is dead. There is a confused situation in Syria at the cost of local blood and to protect geopolitics. Let us see if he is killed in reality or not.”

In his announcement, Trump said Baghdadi detonated his suicide vest when trapped in a tunnel while trying to escape with his three children. Test results, which included DNA confirmation, were “totally positive”, the president added.

Described as the most-wanted individual in the world, the Islamic State leader was designated a terrorist almost eight years ago. The United States had announced a reward of $10 million (approximately Rs 70 crore) for his capture. Baghdadi, born in 1971, declared himself the caliph of the Islamic State in 2013.

Baghdadi’s death is the biggest victory for the United States’ international anti-terror operations since Navy SEAL forces killed al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan in May 2011.

In the last few years, several reports on Baghdadi’s death had surfaced. In June 2017, Russia claimed to have killed him in an airstrike near the Syrian city of Raqqa. On Sunday, Russia refused to confirm Baghdadi’s death. Major-General Igor Konashenkov said, according to RIA news agency: “The Russian Ministry of Defence does not have reliable information on the operation by US servicemen... on yet another ‘elimination’ of former IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.”

Baghdadi was last seen in April, when the Islamic State released a video in which he described the Easter Day attacks in Sri Lanka as revenge for the losses suffered by the group in the Syrian town of Al-Baghuz Fawqani.

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