What happened to ISIS's leader?

The Guardian’s initial reporting, based on sources within Iraq, has been disputed. Most notably, the Pentagon denied that Baghdadi had been targeted in March and said there was no evidence he had been killed. (The Pentagon has not yet replied to a request for comment about today’s report.) Following rumors of Baghdadi’s death that circulated in Iraq last September, Jacob Siegel of The Daily Beast suggested that the self-styled caliph’s supporters could have started them to throw off his enemies…

As in the case of al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane, who was killed in September, would Baghdadi’s death or incapacitation be more of a symbolic victory than an operational one? Last month, many outlets reported on the alarming overlap between the Islamic State’s inner sanctum and the former military leadership of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party, which was deposed in the American-led invasion of Iraq. Despite the fixation on the foreign fighters joining ISIS from Minneapolis to Melbourne, it now seems clear that ISIS wouldn’t be ISIS without the military and financial know-how of former Saddam loyalists.