Washington Post publishes al-Baghdadi headline referring to ISIS leader as ‘austere religious scholar’
The Washington Post published a gasp-inducing headline for the ages Sunday, describing ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as an “austere religious scholar.”
The obituary, written by The Post’s National Security reporter Joby Warrick, followed confirmation of al-Baghdadi’s death in a U.S. military operation in Syria Saturday night. It details al-Baghdadi’s rise to the terrorist group’s shadow leader from what the paper described as his origins as a “religious scholar with wireframe glasses.”
The headline read: “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State, dies at 48.”
The Washington Post appeared to change the headline for ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s obituary. The headline changed from calling him the “Islamic State’s ‘terrorist-in-chief'” to calling him an “austere religious scholar at the helm of the Islamic State.” It appeared to change once again to call him an “extremist leader.”
The story first appeared to run under a headline that referred to al-Baghdadi as the “Islamic State’s ‘terrorist-in-chief.’” It was unclear why or who decided to change the “terrorist” label to “austere religious scholar.”
The Post then changed the headline again, settling on “extremist leader of Islamic State.”
The Post didn’t immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham tweeted that she had “no words” regarding The Post headline. Former Press Secretary Sean Spicer also responded, writing:
“Stop, read this & 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 & @washingtonpost described #Albagdadi as an “austere religious scholar.”
Others on social media took notice of the bizarre headline changes, taking digs at the paper.
“They had it right the first time,” Yashar Ali, New York Magazine and HuffPost contributor tweeted, alongside screenshots of the two headlines.
“@washingtonpost trying desperately to hold on to #ISIS on-line subscribers,” Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said.
Social media users mocked the paper by writing death notices for other historic figures who committed crimes and atrocities.
“#WaPoDeathNotices Genghis Khan, accomplished horseman and indefatigable traveler, breathes his last,” Bard College professor and Wall Stree Journal columnist Walter Russel Mead wrote.
“Adolf Hitler, passionate community planner and dynamic public speaker, dies at 56.#WaPoDeathNotices,” wrote Jason Howerton.
Under Al-Baghdadi’s leadership, ISIS carried out a slew of barbaric atrocities, including the enslavement and rape of thousands of women from Iraq’s Yazidi minority. They massacred captives and threw individuals believed to be gay from the rooftops of buildings.
Journalists and aid workers were beheaded, including Americans, in videos and photos the terror group broadcast with delight.
James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller were American killed at the hands of ISIS under al-Baghdadi’s leadership.
James Foley, an American journalist, was beheaded by ISIS terrorists in August 2014 while covering the Syrian civil war. Foley, 45, was the first U.S. citizen to be murdered by the terrorist group.