Nov 1, 2019
President Trump announced on October 27 that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the
self-styled caliph and head of the Islamic State (ISIS), had killed himself
during a raid by the American Special Forces in the early hours of the day.
Trump said Baghdadi ‘died like a dog’ in a compound near the village of Barisha
in the Idlib province of Syria. The US forces carried out a night raid in
which‘large number’ of Baghdadi’s companions were killed. He ran into an
underground tunnel with three of his children, chased by dogs. Reaching a dead
end, he detonated a suicide vest which killed him and his children. A DNA match
confirmed his identity. And thus ended the saga of al-Baghdadi, the world’s
most wanted terrorist with a bounty of $25 million on his head. Trump thanked
Russia, Syria, Turkey and Iraq for their cooperation in the successful raid.
first came to the world’s notice in 2014, when his followers captured one-third
of Iraq and half of Syria and declared the territory a caliphate, or an Islamic
theocratic state, that had ended with the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire
after World War I. This new caliphate, at its peak, covered territory across
Syria and Iraq, roughly the size of the UK.
of ISIS lie in the insurgency which arose in Iraq after the US invasion of that
country in 2003. The insurgency produced ‘Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia’, which
morphed into the ‘Islamic State of Iraq’, and then in 2011 became the ‘Islamic
State of Iraq and the Levant’, or ISIL/ISIS. Al-Baghdadi — real name Ibrahim
Awad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri — was the proclaimed leader of ISIS in 2010. The
significance of his nom de guerre was evident: Abu Bakr was the first caliph
after the Prophet’s death and is credited with the expansion of Islamic territories.
The al-Badri tribe traces its ancestry to the Quraysh tribe of the Arabian
Peninsula — the tribe of the Prophet. A hereditary connection to the Quraysh is
regarded as a requirement for becoming a caliph. Al-Baghdadi’s tribe claimed
ancestral links to Fatima, the Prophet’s youngest daughter. He thus possessed
the necessary theological qualifications for becoming a caliph.
height, the ISIS flag flew over major cities including Mosul, which had a
population of 1.4 million. ISIS, also known as Daesh, imposed its harsh version
of Islam in these territories and shocked the world by televising its
executions. A Jordanian pilot was burned alive while being filmed. Those
suspected of spying were crushed under tanks. Women accused of adultery were stoned
to death and men who defied Daesh were beheaded. Shias and Yazidis were
massacred, and their women raped on a large scale.
when Baghdadi ascended the pulpit of a mosque in Mosul to announce the
caliphate, the world saw his face for the first time. ISIS used the power of
the Internet to connect with followers all over the world. His message was that
any Muslim could act in the name of ISIS. Thus, terror attacks took place in
different parts of the world, including the US, Germany, France, and Sri Lanka.
By 2015, the ISIS held a large area extending from western Iraq to eastern
Syria, containing an estimated 8-10 million people.
ISIS was by
now viewed as a threat to international security. In mid-2014, an international
coalition led by the US launched an attack against ISIS in Syria and Iraq,
killing tens of thousands of its members. That was followed by Russian and
Syrian intervention in the summer of 2015, which further depleted its ranks. In
2017, the group lost control of Mosul to the Iraq army, followed by the loss of
Raqqa in Syria to the US and the Syrian Kurds.
2019, it lost the final scrap of land under its control. It had taken five
years to recover all territory held by the group, but Baghdadi had not been
captured. He was believed to have escaped from Mosul during an attack on
besieging forces from inside the city in early 2017. He was on the run after
question now is: will ISIS continue to exist under another leader? Most experts
believe the answer is yes. Baghdadi’s killing is a serious symbolic blow to
ISIS but not a fatal one, and the movement is not going to go out of business
at King’s College, London, Andreas Krieg, told Al Jazeera that Baghdadi’s death
was ‘mostly of symbolic importance… this organisation has become somewhat of a
virtual caliphate, a franchise that other groups can buy into and basically
sell around the world.’
analyst Hasan Haniyeh said Baghdadi’s death would not result in ‘any
substantive change’ for ISIS, arguing it might even bring some relief to the
group because of the difficult task of protecting him. ‘ISIS will continue but
will revert to being an organisation, not a state or caliphate.’
a spokesman for the Iranian government, said Baghdadi’s death, while symbolic,
didn’t mean that the fight against Daesh was over. The main reason was that the
US was not going to stop adopting policies that nurture the kind of extremist
ideologies that Baghdadi represented. US interventionism in the Middle East was
the main reason for the proliferation of Daesh and other Takfiri terror
leaders, too, warned that the fight against ISIS was not yet over. French
President Macron said Baghdadi’s death was a major blow against ISIS but ‘the
fight continues to finally defeat this terrorist organisation’. British PM
Boris Johnson said the UK would work with its partners ‘to bring an end to the
murderous, barbaric activities of Daesh once and for all’. The Philippines,
Indonesia, and Malaysia said they were braced for retaliation by ISIS
loyalists, including ‘lone wolf’ attacks.
observers also noted the timing of Baghdadi’s elimination. They saw it as
helping Trump’s re-election chances in 2020.
Srivastava is a former Ambassador.
Headline: Not the end of ISIS
Source: The Tribune India