Left Menu
Development News Edition

Islamic State still poses threat after death of al-Baghdadi


Islamic State still poses threat after death of al-Baghdadi
Image Credit: Flickr

Washington, Oct 28 (AP) Eliminating the Islamic State's elusive leader gives President Donald Trump a new argument for leaving Syria, but the US military campaign against the extremists is far from finished. The killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi by US forces leaves the Islamic State without an obvious leader, a major setback for an organization that in March was forced by American troops and Kurdish forces out of the last portion of its self-declared "caliphate," which once spanned a swath of Iraq and Syria.

But the militant group, which arose from the remnants of al-Qaida in Iraq after that group's defeat by U.S.-led forces in 2008, has ambitions to regenerate yet again. And it remains a dangerous threat in Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond. "The bottom line is: This puts the enemy on its heels, but the ideology — and this sounds so cliched -- it is not dead," said Chris Costa, a former senior director for counterterrorism for the National Security Council in the Trump administration.

Key to the Islamic States is its "kill where you are" ethos, encouraging a far-flung network of followers, including those in the United States, to commit violence however and wherever they can. That jihadist message is likely to live on, even with the death of al-Baghdadi. That means U.S. forces, perhaps in reduced numbers, will continue hunting and attacking key Islamic State targets, even as Trump says he's committed to a 2016 campaign pledge to bring them home and end "endless wars" started under his predecessors.

Trump earlier this month went from declaring a near-complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria to deciding that some -- perhaps several hundred -- must stay to keep eastern Syria's oil fields from falling back into the hands of the Islamic State. Trump also agreed to keep about 150 U.S. troops at a base in southern Syria. In announcing Sunday that al-Baghdadi had blown himself up after being cornered in a dead-end underground tunnel in Syria, Trump acknowledged that IS, which he often calls "100 percent" defeated, still has ambitions to make a comeback. The group is "very, very strongly looking to build it again," he said.

This, he said, explains why Baghdadi was in the Idlib province of northwestern Syria, an area largely controlled by a rival group — the al-Qaida-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham — although other jihadi groups sympathetic to Islamic State are also there. "Well, that's where he was trying to rebuild from because that was the place that made most sense, if you're looking to rebuild," Trump said.

Trump suggested that other countries, including Russia, carry on the fight against IS, but there is no indication that U.S. forces will abandon the mission any time soon. "Our job is to stay on top of that and to make sure that we continue to take out their leadership," Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on ABC's "This Week." Rep. Mike Rogers, the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, said five years of U.S. and coalition effort inside Syria have not eliminated the Islamic State threat.

"While the death of its leader is a tremendous blow for the group, about 10,000 ISIS fighters remain in the region and will continue to carry out guerrilla attacks and seek new territory," he said. According to defense officials in Iraq and Afghanistan who study Islamic State and have watched its movements, the group is growing in power and numbers outside of Syria.

Its flagship affiliate is known as ISIS-Khorasan in Afghanistan, and it is expanding into other countries, including Pakistan, Tajikistan, Iran, India, Bangladesh and Indonesia. Many of those affiliates have liaisons in the terror group's hub in eastern Afghanistan. In addition to conducting high-profile attacks inside Afghanistan, the official said the Islamic State has also already proven its ability to inspire and enable terrorist attacks outside Afghanistan, including a deadly one in Sweden.

It is this global reach that makes the Islamic State a continuing worry, including for U.S. officials seeking to protect the homeland. Al-Baghdadi served as a direct inspiration for extremists in the United States, where multiple jihadists in the last five years invoked his name as they carried out deadly acts of violence.

Omar Mateen, the gunman who in 2016 killed 49 people inside an Orlando, Florida nightclub, pledged allegiance to al-Baghdadi during a 911 call in which he identified himself as an Islamic soldier. Months earlier, Tashfeen Malik, who along with her husband killed 14 people at a San Bernardino, California, holiday party, took to Facebook after her massacre was already underway to declare her support for al-Baghdadi. "That voice, the face associated with it — the name in particular — it's all directly linked to those in the United States who have pledged allegiance to him so as to conduct attacks in the group's name," said Joshua Geltzer, a former senior counterterrorism official in the Obama administration.

The death of al-Baghdadi leaves the group without an equally brand-name successor and deprives would-be jihadists of a figurehead leader to rally behind. Counterterrorism experts say that leadership void is a significant loss for a terror group that had lost the vast stretches of the physical caliphate in Syria and Iraq it had once controlled. But they also caution that they expect the group's ideology to endure beyond al-Baghdadi.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


TRENDING

OPINION/BLOG/INTERVIEW

What happens to your outstanding loans if the bank falls?

... ...

Time for a change! Innovations to stop the growing plastic pollution

As the planet is drowning in plastic pollution, many new innovative approaches and solutions have emerged to effectively deal with the menace....

How to avoid fake universities and fishing bait like Farmington

As education sharks are roaming around to prey, we present a guide on how to mitigate hunters and reach to a genuine universityinstitute. In this era of commercialization of education, the fake universities and economic frauds in educationa...

How India is being pushed towards commercialization of higher education

The reluctance of the present dispensation in pushing the higher education towards commercialization is not just limited to the fees hike in Jawaharlal Nehru University JNU. It seems the government is gradually implementing a plan which is ...

Videos

Latest News

Gati Launches itself into the Next Phase of Growth with All Cargo Logistics & Kintetsu World Express Japan

Hyderabad, Telangana, India NewsVoirGati Ltd. NSE GATI, BSE 532345 Indias leader in Express Distribution and Supply Chain Solutions, has offloaded a significant equity stake to Allcargo Logistics Ltd. Indias largest integrated logistics so...

Weak Arctic ice sees 56 polar bears descend on Russian village

Moscow, Dec 6 AFP More than 50 polar bears have gathered on the edge of a village in Russias far north, environmentalists and residents said, as weak Arctic ice leaves them unable to roam. The Russian branch of the World Wildlife Fund said ...

Martin Scorsese wanted Anna Paquin to have less dialogues in 'The Irishman'

Filmmaker Martin Scorsese says it was his decision to give less dialogues to Anna Paquins character in The Irishman as he wanted her to serve more as an observer. The Netflix film, which has been receiving critical acclaim from all quarters...

PM Modi meets Mauritius counterpart Pravind Jugnauth

Prime Minister Narendra Modi met his Mauritius counterpart Pravind Kumar Jugnauth in New Delhi on Friday. Jugnauth is on a visit to India, which has come weeks after his victory in the recently concluded parliamentary elections.PM Modi had ...

Give Feedback