Baghdadi’s Death has weakened Islamic State

Jatin Desai
Sunday, 3 November 2019

The self-proclaimed Caliph and world’s most wanted terrorist Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been killed in a US operation. The world is free from a dreaded militant and Baghdadi’s death will weaken the terrorist organisation Islamic State (IS) he had built over the years. However, it will be too early to say that the organisation is dead.

The self-proclaimed Caliph and world’s most wanted terrorist Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been killed in a US operation. The world is free from a dreaded militant and Baghdadi’s death will weaken the terrorist organisation Islamic State (IS) he had built over the years. However, it will be too early to say that the organisation is dead.

Earlier on May 2 2011, Al Qaeda supremo Osama Bin Laden was killed by the US in a daring operation in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Even at that time Al Qaeda, Taliban and other militant organisation’s capacity to strike in Pakistan and Afghanistan was weakened. But, they reorganised themselves. It is necessary for the US and others to act in such a way that the (IS) does not get an opportunity to reorganise.

Baghdadi’s body was buried in a sea like Osama Bin Laden. There is another similarity also. Both were killed following the information provided by local people. Syrian Kurds provided information of Baghdadi’s hiding to the US. Finally, the US raided the place where Baghdadi was hiding. Syrian Kurds are resisting various militant organisations including IS, al-Nusra etc. in Syria since long. 
 
The US was aware on October 26 that Baghdadi was killed in a raid in a village Barisha in Idlib province of in Northern Syria. US President Donald Trump had tweeted, “Something very big has just happened”. Baghdadi detonated his suicide vest at the end of a tunnel killing himself and his three children. Later, Abu Hasan al-Muhajir, spokesperson and likely replacement of Baghdadi, was also killed in an operation. 

The raid was sudden and it was in the background of the announcement of the withdrawal of the US forces from Northern Syria two weeks ago. It is believed that Pentagon thought they may lose Baghdadi if they do not act immediately. An unnamed dog chased Baghdadi into a tunnel and cornered him. The dog is likely to be of Belgian Malinois breed. The US President has also praised the dog. But, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley said, “We are protecting the dog’s identity.” The dog is wounded and is recovering.

Baghdadi was arrested by US troops in 2004 from Fallujah, Iraq and was sent to a detention centre at Camp Bucca. He was released after 10 months as the US considered him a low-level threat.  

He appeared only twice on camera. The first time was in July 2014 when he declared himself as Caliph from a mosque in Mosul and second time in April this year when rumours spread that he was killed. He attracted hundreds of youths from Europe to America to come to Syria, Iraq and fight. A sizeable number of youngsters from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Maldives, Sri Lanka have also joined IS. Around 100 youths from India also joined the militant organisation. Baghdadi was also responsible for the beheading of many western aid workers. IS killed hundreds of Yazidi men and made women sex slaves. 
 
Earlier, Al Qaeda was heading a global network of terrorist organisations but Baghdadi challenged it and formed its own global network. IS did not confine itself into Syria and Iraq. They spread to Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, Egypt. Brutal Boko Haram of Nigeria is also affiliated to IS. Even local militant group who attacked Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday were inspired by IS.

The history shows that various militant organisations regroup themselves after their top leader get killed. Time and again this has happened in Kashmir, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The IS has a presence in the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan. In 2017, the US had used ‘mother of all bombs’ to kill IS militants in Nangarhar. Till recently, the US was talking to the Taliban to not allow foreign terrorist organisations in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, foreign terrorist organisation means IS. But, they did not reach any agreement.

It is time for the international community to see that IS does not get an opportunity to reorganise. Syrian Kurds can stop the IS. But, the Kurds needs to be taken into confidence and protected. Syria is talking to the Kurds. Donald Trump will use the death of Baghdadi in his re-election campaign. The US Presidential election is due next year.

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