The leader of the Islamic state Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is in hiding as the two main centres of his self-declared caliphate are close to being taken by Iraqi and US coalition-led forces.

The two main ISIS strongholds of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria have been under seige for months, forcing al-Baghdadi to flee. It's believed he is hunkering down somewhere in the thousands of miles of desert between the two locations.

Lahur Talabani, the head of counter-terrorism at the Kurdistan Regional Government believes that al-Baghdadi will either be captured or killed, saying, “he will not be able to remain underground forever.”

However, it could take months, or even years, to bring the Islamic State leader to justice, according to Reuters.

Leader of caliphate feared dead

There were reports that al-Baghdadi was wounded and killed in a recent Syrian airstrike, although this remains unconfirmed.

Syria’s state television announced that al-Baghdadi was killed in air strikes on Raqqa city on June 10. They quoted a statement published by the Islamic State’s media arm, Wilayat Al-Raqqa.

Images of what appears to be Al-Baghdadi’s dead body was shown on Syrian state TV news, but there have also been previous false reports of his death. No other official sources have confirmed the news of al-Baghdadi’s death.

Talabany believes the beleagured Isis leader is losing support among his troops and "has become nervous and very careful in his movements" as “his circle of trust has become even smaller”.

Islamic State under seige

As Isis is under sustained attacks in Mosul and Raqqa, those previously loyal to al-Baghdadi may betray him for the $25 million price tag for his capture. "The reward creates worry and tension, it restricts his movements and limit the number of his guards,” says Fadhel Abu Ragheef, an expert on extremist groups.

"He doesn't stay more than 72 hours in any one place."

The leadership of Baghdadi was called into question by Abu Sulayman who met with the 46-year-old Iraqi on several ocasions. His assessment of one of the most feared men on the planet was damning, saying Baghdadi had the brain the size of a peanut. “I expected someone much deeper.

He is not a sophisticated thinker. He’s a blustering buffoon,” he told The Saturday Paper

Sulayman, a former spokesman for Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, also described as al-Qaeda in Syria, characterised Baghdadi has having a child's temper, similar to that of US President Donald Trump.

“Baghdadi is not ISIS,” said Sulayman, claiming his title of caliph is “just a name” and that “other people are running the show”.