“The world is now a much safer place”
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the terrorist organisation the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) has been confirmed dead. According to US President Donald Trump, He was killed during a US-led night-time raid on his safe house in Barisha, a village in northwest Syria. Al-Baghdadi was cornered into a dead-end tunnel where he was asked to surrender. He refused, igniting an explosive vest, killing himself and three children. His body was identified by DNA testing on-site. Details of the raid as described by Trump can be found on The Guardian,
The death was announced by Trump in rather gruesome terms last Sunday. Of al-Baghdadi, he remarked that “He died like a dog. He died like a coward.” and “spent his last moments in utter fear, in total panic and dread, terrified of the American forces bearing down on him.” Officials later pointed out that some of Trump’s descriptions were false (or classified), so take his testimony with a pinch of salt. The death of al-Baghdadi comes as the US forces are pulling out of Syria, a move that Pentagon analysts say could result in the resurgence of ISIS. Trump said, however, that al-Baghdadi’s death will not influence the decision to withdraw.
Or is it?
While the US has described the death as a “devastating blow” to ISIS, defence experts are sceptical. ISIS has had a plan for military and territorial setbacks for at least three years and speculations are already being made on the next successor. ISIS’ decentralised nature and extensive bureaucratic systems and structures are likely to further minimise the impact of al-Baghdadi’s death. Indeed, experts are quick to point out that this death is unlikely to lead to any “substantial change”, and his legacy of a successful caliphate project is likely to embolden future jihadists.
As repeated by world leaders across the globe, the fight is not over. The Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia, in particular, are bracing themselves for retaliatory attacks by ISIS loyalists.