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Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Remembered by Neighbors as ‘Quiet but Friendly…Seemed like a Great Guy’

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Accolades have been pouring in from around the globe to commemorate the life of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who finally met his 72 virgins after blowing himself up (along with three of his children) into teeny-weeny pieces:  ‘Austere Religious Scholar’ (Washington Post); ‘What a Great Beard!’ (Gentlemen’s Quarterly); ‘Best Dressed Jihadist’ (People Magazine); and, from the ahl al-hall wal-aqd division at CNN: ‘From Misunderstood Terrorist to Respected Caliph.’ 

However, the most heartfelt remarks came from the people who knew him best.  His next-door neighbor, Muhammed, remembered Abu fondly:  “He may have been known worldwide as a kidnapper and torturer, a serial rapist and murderer, but to us he was just your average Abu.”  Another neighbor, Muhammed, who lived in the cave across the street:  “Abu took it upon himself to teach my son, Muhammed, the finer points of jihad and pillaging, as well as all of the holy tenets of the ‘religion of peace.’” 

Abu’s own sister wrote the following (as she was not allowed to speak under threat of stoning):  “Nobody could light up a room the way Abu could…he was the most considerate, kind person I have ever known.”  Abu’s cousin, Muhammed, could barely contain his emotions as he paid his respects:  “When I blew off my leg during a botched suicide bombing, it was Abu who would come to comfort me…he brought a dinner of camel brains and even swept my cave.  Do you know what a bitch it is to sweep a dirt floor?  Anyway, when my son, Muhammed, lost his job, it was Abu who found him work as an Assistant Manager of Beheadings and Crucifixions (AMBC) at ISIS headquarters.  Abu may be gone, but he will never be forgotten.”  

(Reporting by Rashida Talib and Ilhan Omar, former US Representatives, on location at Barisha, Harem District, Idlib Province, Syria)