The Washington Post was mocked Sunday after posting an obituary for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi with a glowing headline describing the terrorist — known for unimaginable violence, including systematic rape and murder — as an "austere religious scholar."
When the Post first published its story, the newspaper described al-Baghdadi as the "Islamic State's terrorist-in-Chief." However, for unknown reasons, the Post later changed the headline to describe al-Baghdadi as an "austere religious scholar," giving special emphasis to his academic career.
"The man who would become the founding leader of the world's most brutal terrorist group spent his early adult years as an obscure academic, aiming for a quiet life as a professor of Islamic law," the Post wrote.
"And yet, despite the group's extremist views and vicious tactics, Mr. Baghdadi maintained a canny pragmatism as leader," the Post also said of al-Baghdadi.
The newspaper, however, conceded that al-Baghdadi oversaw the "shocking brutality" of ISIS.
What was the reaction?
The Post was widely mocked Sunday after the headline change circulated on social media.
After the backlash, Post editors gave the story its third headline iteration, "Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, extremist leader of Islamic State, dies at 48."
However, the story's opening paragraph still described al-Baghdadi as "an austere religious scholar with wire-frame glasses and no known aptitude for fighting and killing."