The “Caliph” of the new radical Islamic State that has seized power across Iraq and Syria may not have been wearing a luxury wristwatch during his first public appearance after all.
The video of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, or Caliph Ibrahim as he now styles himself, giving a Friday sermon at a mosque in the Iraqi city of Mosul was the first opportunity to see the man who has masterminded the rise of a Syrian rebel faction into a new power feared around the world.
He dressed in the style of a Caliph of one of the early Islamic empires, in a black robe and turban, and his speech was full of references to Islamic history and theology.
However, his heavy, chrome-plated wristwatch with a black face also attracted attention, and speculation that it was a Rolex, Sekonda or £3,500 Omega Seamaster.
On Tuesday, though, pro-Islamic State social media accounts have published pictures of the watch they say he was actually wearing. It is not clear whether they are privy to his personal information or are just making an informed guess.
They say the watch was a type targeted at pious Muslims – the Al-Fajr WA-10S Deluxe, which retails for the more modest $449 (£260) – or cheaper at online discount stores…
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That is still more than I’ve ever paid for a watch. Besides, isn’t a watch kind of… non-early Islamic? I notice he using a microphone too. And of course ISIS is deep into social media as well. Not to mention American weapons.
In earlier days (say, the 19th century) when Muslims first began to realize how far they had fallen behind the West, there was an instinctive reaction among radicals not to use the “kuffar” products.
By the 21st century, that is all gone. My theory is that no one alive today can remember that era before these Western inventions went global and thus they seem to be just “there” – like air and water.