File - Baghdadi is “killing ruthlessly.”
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The shadowy leader of thousands of Islamist fighters in Syria and Iraq, many of them Westerners, appears to be surpassing Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahri as the world's most influential jihadist.Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) – known for its ruthless tactics and suicide bombers – is arguably the most capable force fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad, and has even held control of a major Iraqi city for the past five months, in tandem with other groups.Baghdadi apparently joined the insurgency that erupted in Iraq soon after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.Baghdadi sought to merge with the Nusra Front, which rejected the deal, and the two groups have operated separately since.Zawahri has urged ISIS to focus on Iraq and leave Syria to Nusra, but Baghdadi and his fighters have openly defied the Al-Qaeda chief and, indeed, have fought not only Assad, but also Nusra and other rebel groups.
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