ISIS Leader Al-Baghdadi Is Not Dead
ISIS Leader Al-Baghdadi Is Not Dead
ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi has popped his head up out of his spider hole long enough to shoot a video and warn the United States about his continued presence. Although Al-Baghdadi made a radio address last year, this is the first visual evidence, in five years, the world has that he is not dead. His appearance at this time acknowledges the losses ISIS has suffered, aids in recruiting and retention of the faithful, and pokes President Trump and the special operators who have spent five years looking for him.
In 2014, Al-Baghdadi declared himself the ISIS leader and Caliph of the new Caliphate while standing in the Nuri mosque in Mosul. Since that time, the leader, also known as Abu Du’a and Al-Shabah, has been rumored to be gravely injured or dead. The United States has posted a $25,000,000 reward for Abu Bakr. He does not use any device that could lead to his location and probably lives in his spider hole somewhere along the Iraq/Syria border.
While Al-Baghdadi acknowledges the loss of the Caliphate in the video, he also claims Islam’s revenge with the Sri Lanka attacks on Easter Sunday. From the New York Times:
The message he intended to send was clear, analysts said: The Islamic State still exists, he is still in charge, and its international network of militants will continue to launch painful, unpredictable attacks. If he felt compelled to reveal himself now, after years in hiding, they said, it was to reassert his authority in the face of a punishing loss in Syria.
“Baghdadi has remained off the grid for so long that his sudden appearance will very likely serve as both a morale boost for ISIS supporters and remaining militants and as a catalyst for individuals or small groups to act,” said Colin P. Clarke, a senior fellow at the Soufan Center, a research organization for global security issues. “He is essentially reasserting his leadership and suggesting that he sits atop the command-and-control network of what remains of the group, not only in Iraq and Syria, but more broadly, in its far-flung franchises and affiliates.”
CBS News reported on the video last night:
Okay, I know that this is a little thing, but if “al” means “the” in Arabic, then every time one off these “expert” reporters says things like “the al Nuri mosque”, they are saying “the the Nuri mosque”. I know it’s a little thing, but it makes me crazy.
While Al-Baghdadi’s video reassures the followers of this radical Islamic ideology, it should be, along with the Sri Lanka attacks, a reminder that we cannot let our guard down. The franchises and affiliates are everywhere. And the women are just as vicious and committed as the men. USA Today filed this report last week about the displaced persons in refugee camps in Northern Syria:
Many in the camps remain die-hard supporters of IS. Women in general were often active participants in IS’s rule. Some joined women’s branches of the “Hisba,” the religious police who brutally enforced the group’s laws. Others helped recruit more foreigners. Freed Yazidi women have spoken of cruelties inflicted by female members of the group.
Within the fences of al-Hol camp, IS supporters have tried to recreate the caliphate as much as possible. Some women have re-formed the Hisba to keep camp residents in line, according to officers from the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces guarding the camp.
While the AP was there, women in all-covering black robes and veils known as niqab tried to intimidate anyone speaking to journalists; children threw stones at visitors, calling them “dogs” and “infidels.”
And, there it is. The next generation is taught from birth about the “dogs” and “infidels”. Existential is a word that is overused. This is an existential war. Today, Al-Baghdadi is the figure head, just as Osama bin-Laden was before him. There will always be a figurehead. The cancer that is radical Islam will continue to metastasize Al-Baghdadi or no. He is not dead yet, but my money is on the special operators looking for him. We must remain ever aware.