Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, shadowy leader of the jihadist group that's taken over much of Iraq and self-appointed leader of the world's Muslims, made an unprecedented public appearance at the beginning of last week—and was promptly criticized for being a sheikh with a chic fashion watch.
Al-Baghdadi's appearance at Friday prayers in a Mosul mosque was marred by his apparently cosmopolitan choice of a timepiece, as observers snarked his heavy metal wristwatch:
— M. (@malasqalani) July 5, 2014
The Telegraph newspaper went so far as to blow up the image and speculate on the timepiece's provenance:
One thing's not in doubt: al-Baghdadi, who recently anointed himself Amir al-Mumineen—leader of the faithful, and the latest in a line of Islamic caliphs tracing back to the prophet Muhammad—can certainly afford fat bling, considering his militia, "the world's richest terrorist group," likely sacked half a billion dollars from Mosul's bank alone.
Nevertheless, much of the criticism seems overblown; the frame of the watch doesn't look quite right to be an Omega Seamaster, the $6,000 watch that many critics seem to have settled on as al-Baghdadi's couture accoutrement. Nor do the links look right to be a steel Rolex. A likelier candidate is a knockoff or a Sekonda—hardly a luxury item at about $86. And anyway, as the Telegraph points out, Iraq's government in Baghdad denies that the imam in the video is even al-Baghdadi—although the government's never really gotten its facts right on the ISIS leader before.
But that's beside the point. Even if it's a cheap one-off, the caliph likes pretty things, and isn't that horrible? This is clearly disastrous for his politico-religious authority. What's next, beheadings and mass-killings of civilians?
The strange thing about Caliph Baghdadi is that he has a very sophisticated watch and he still can't tell which millenium it is.
— Karl Sharro (@KarlreMarks) July 6, 2014