Time magazine has named Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State terrorist group, the runner-up for its Person of the Year award.
The publication gave German Chancellor Angela Merkel the official title this week, making her the fourth woman to earn the distinction. She edged out other finalists like Donald Trump, the Black Lives Matter movement and the CEO of Uber.
“In 2015, al-Baghdadi, 44, transformed the breakaway al-Qaeda group from a battlefield force operating in the chaos of Syria and Iraq into a transnational terrorist franchise killing civilians in more than a dozen countries around the world,” Time journalist Massimo Calabresi wrote in an article following the announcement. “Orchestrating deadly attacks against far-flung targets — including sports stadiums, beach resorts and museums — ISIS has killed more than 1,200 civilian victims outside of Iraq and Syria this year while luring a steady stream of recruits to the so-called Islamic State.”
The publication defended its decision to include the terror leader among the finalists saying, “for better or for worse … the title [is given] to who has done the most to influence events of the year.”
An online survey conducted by NBC showed that the Islamic State leader as the runaway winner, with 64 percent of the vote.
Time Managing Editor Nancy Gibbs said al-Baghdadi was the number 2 choice for the title when she announced the award on the “Today Show” Wednesday.