Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may have achieved notoriety for his leadership of the Islamic State, however his friends and family knew him as a man of many hobbies and interests. Aside from enjoying a brief flirtation with campanology, the now-deceased chief had a number of pastimes and despite his hectic schedule at ISIS HQ, he always found time to indulge in his favourite extra-curricular activities.
Despite his disagreements with the US, al Baghdadi was actually a dedicated fan of the NFL and was a fully signed up member of the Seattle Seahawks fan club. He was able to follow every single match of the 2018-19 season from inside his cave, despite the television coverage in Raqqa being patchy at best. His love of the US sport almost persuaded him to swap sides and apply to become an ISIS Informant for the US Government, however he changed his mind at the last minute following the Seahawks’ 2018 defeat to the Cowboys in the Wild Card round of the play-offs.
The introverted bigamist even signed up for American football lessons back in 2016, although his busy Islamic State schedule regularly prevented him from attending.
Al-Baghdadi also regularly indulged in online gambling and he soon became a regular at the black jack table. As he became increasingly renowned for his ISIS-based activities, he was forced to give us his twice-weekly visits to Baghdad Casino and soon got hooked on online slot games instead.
Prior to forming ISIS, the capricious commander lost over $5K in one sitting and was reportedly inconsolable. Many believe that this substantial loss was the catalyst for his change of vocation, swapping his part-time job as a painter and decorator to become the head honcho of the newly formed Islamic State.
His favourite games included Starburst, the Goonies and Fishin’ Frenzy.
Although he was famed for his aggression and hatred, al-Baghdadi was also extremely dexterous and towards the end of his life, he took up the Japanese art of paper folding. Although his portfolio was largely limited to land-based and aquatic animals, colleagues would regularly stop to admire his handiwork.
As a father of several illegitimate children, he would reportedly produce several works of art for his offspring with pigs, frogs and snakes believed to be amongst his catalogue of creations.
Despite his hectic schedule, al-Baghdadi regularly made time to practice his handwriting. He invested in some ISIS-branded letterheads and routinely corresponded with friends and family members using this old fashioned form of communication.
When he came into some money, he treated himself to an expensive set of fountain pens and reportedly had a special writing draw which was off-limits to any other Islamic State members (unless authorized).
Some of his most striking calligraphy is believed to be have been collected following his death and is on display in Ljubljana’s world-famous hand-writing museum.