WaPo blasted for dubbing ISIS leader ‘austere religious scholar’ in head-scratching headline

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The Washington Post’s bizarre editorial decision to describe terror chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as an “austere religious scholar” in an obituary headline has brought a storm of criticism upon the newspaper.

As authorities offered confirmation that US forces had killed the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) leader in a raid on a safe house in northwestern Syria on Saturday night, the paper rolled out on obit marking the death of the barbarous jihadist by describing him as the “austere religious scholar at the helm of the Islamic State.”

The Post acknowledged that the Iraqi led the terror group with “shocking brutality” but focused much of its obituary on his academic endeavors.

“The man who would become the founding leader of the world’s most brutal terrorist group spent his early adult years as an obscure academic, aiming for a quiet life as a professor of Islamic law,” the article reads.

“Acquaintances would remember him as a shy, nearsighted youth who liked soccer but preferred to spend his free time at the local mosque,” it adds.

Also on rt.com Who was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi? Here’s what you need to know about the infamous ISIS leader

Strangely, the first version of the story described al-Baghdadi as “Islamic State’s terrorist-in-chief,” only for it to later be changed to “austere religious scholar”. Perhaps the paper’s editors didn’t want to offend their IS readers?

The headline sparked a furious reaction on social media, with many struggling to comprehend why the Post had chosen to frame the story in this manner.

“Stop, read this and think about it: last night a ruthless, brutal terrorist who threatened our country & is responsible for the death of American citizens was killed in a successful operation by US military & Washington Post described al-Bagdadi as an ‘austere religious scholar,’” former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer wrote on Twitter.

US President Donald Trump’s daughter and advisor Ivanka Trump also blasted the paper. “Unreal,” she wrote. “Al-Baghdadi described as ‘Austere religious scholar’ instead of ‘terrorist’ in Washpo Obituary headline.”

Many others contrasted the Jeff Bezos owned newspapers’ treatment of the US president with its delicate description of the violent terrorist leader.

“The Washington Post writes harsher about our President than they do the leader of ISIS who cuts people’s heads off and murders innocents,” Charlie Kirk, the prominent conservative commentator, said.

The backlash was so great that it appears to have prompted another headline switcheroo, as the piece now describes al-Baghdadi as an “extremist leader.” At the time of writing the headline reads: ‘Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, extremist leader of Islamic State, dies at 48.’ 

You can read the article here to see if has suffered through yet-another tortured re-write.

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