But in the lands that were under ISIS rule, conspiracy theories are swirling. While many are happy that the man behind much suffering is dead, residents are questioning the details the U.S. has offered about Baghdadi’s demise and whether he died at all. Some even wonder whether he ever existed, suggesting how deep distrust of the U.S. government may run in this part of the world.
“First [President George W.] Bush came and said he killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, then [President Barack] Obama came and he said he killed [Osama] bin Laden, now this one comes saying he killed Baghdadi. Every president kills one,” says Zekko Zuhair, a pet store owner in Mosul, Iraq…
Mosul resident Marwa Khaled is with her 5-year-old son, Mohaiman, who’s holding a plastic toy rifle almost as big as he is. Mohaiman never met his father, a police officer who was killed by ISIS.
“I’m happy but I’m not sure about the news,” Khaled says. “We didn’t see a body, we didn’t see anything.”