Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Is Dead, Will ISIS Vanish?

Photo: thierry ehrmann | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead. The leader of the world’s most prolific terrorist organizations in the world has “blew himself up” after an entire night of treacherous raid conducted by the United States to capture and liquidate the ISIS leader. But is this the end of an era, or will this trigger a resurgence from the Islamic terrorist group? 

President Donald Trump, in a voice of triumph, announced on Sunday at the White House that the United States was able to liquidate the “world’s number one terrorist leader” after a years-long pursuit to capture the man responsible for a number of global terrorist attacks, genocide campaigns, and revival slavery operations — most of which have been caught on video. Trump proclaimed that the man who declared Iraq and Syria as part of an Islamic caliphate is now finally dead. 

The POTUS said that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi “blew himself up” after the U.S. forces zeroed in on him during a daring, two-hour nighttime raid on his compound in northern Syria. Trump, in his statement, explained several details of the operation. 

“Last night was a great night for the United States and for the world. A brutal killer, one who has caused so much hardship and death, has violently been eliminated,” he added.

The death of the ISIS leader marks the end of an international pursuit to put the end on the organization’s terrorist agenda. al-Baghdadi’s death is a significant victory against terrorism as he is known to be the brain behind the group’s operations.

For U.S. officials, the death of al-Bagdadi is not only the death of a leader but the death of the ideology that keeps the terrorist group together. 

“This is a devastating blow. This is not just their leader; it’s their founder. He was an inspirational leader in many ways. He formed ISIS in 2014, he led to establishing the physical caliphate throughout the region, so this is a major blow to them,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in an interview after the death of the ISIS founder. 

However, victories like this are a double-edged sword. The death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi could fuel the resurgence of ISIS, a global terrorist organization with operations and members in West Africa, Libya, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, Afghanistan, the Philippines, and has followers in Europe and other parts of the world. This also doesn’t account for the 18,000 fighters that are still on the loose between Syria and Iraq who can retaliate for their leaders’ death. 

Earlier interviews with some of the ISIS fighters and their families, including other die-hard members of the terrorist groups, have proclaimed that their allegiance was towards the ideology of ISIS, stressed their allegiance to ad-Dawla al-Islamiya (the Islamic state) and not to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

In the best case, the ISIS as an organization will change leadership and morph into something else. It is less likely that the organization will disappear after the death of al-Baghdadi. This means that the fight against religious extremism is far from over — but with the ISIS head’s death, we have taken a few steps forward. 

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