On Friday, The Guardian expanded on its earlier reporting that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been seriously wounded in American airstrikes in March. According to reporter Martin Chulov, Baghdadi "remains incapacitated due to suspected spinal damage and is being treated by two doctors who travel to his hideout from the group’s stronghold of Mosul."
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.
There have been other reports, since discredited, that said Baghdadi had been hit in airstrikes in November and December. Further back, the September rumors that Baghdadi had been killed were accompanied by a graphic photo purporting to show his corpse, which went viral before being declared a hoax. And, for the coup de grâce, earlier this week, Iranian media offered the rumor that Baghdadi had been pronounced "clinically dead" by Israeli doctors in the Golan Heights.