The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the death of Islamic State Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was killed in a United States Special Ops raid Saturday night involving eight helicopters and a ground clash on the Turkey-Syria border in northwestern Idlib. U.S. President Trump announced the death in a “major statement”.
Al-Baghdadi’s death is one of biggest victories of the Trump administration in the war against ISIS, and this very big win, along with Trump thanking Russia, has triggered globalist elite pundits to actually mourn the death of Baghdadi.
When Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi took the reins of the Islamic State of Iraq in 2010, few had heard of the organization or its new leader, an austere religious scholar with wire-frame glasses and no known aptitude for fighting and killing.
But just four years later, Mr. Baghdadi had helped transform his failing movement into one of the most notorious and successful terrorist groups of modern times. Under his guidance it would burst into the public consciousness as the Islamic State, an organization that would seize control of entire cities in Iraq and Syria and become a byword for shocking brutality.
He died Oct. 26 in northwest Syria, during a raid conducted by Special Operations forces, President Trump said in a Sunday morning news conference at the White House. Mr. Baghdadi was 48, and had run into a “dead-end tunnel” before he “ignited his vest,” killing himself and three of his children, Trump said.
“Baghdadi was vicious and violent, and he died in a vicious and violent way — as a coward, running and crying,” the president added.
[Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi dead following U.S. Special Operations raid in Syria]
The man at the helm of the Islamic State was a shadowy presence, appearing in public only a handful of times and rarely allowing his own voice to be heard, even as the caliphate was beaten back and finally destroyed. During his tenure, the Islamic State would come to mirror its leader: a messianic figure drawn to the harshest interpretations of Islamic texts and seized with the conviction that all dissenters should be put to death.
And yet, despite the group’s extremist views and vicious tactics, Mr. Baghdadi maintained a canny pragmatism as leader, melding a fractious mix of radical jihadists and former Iraqi Baathists and army officers into an effective military force. It was this combination of extremist ideology and practical military experience that enabled the group to seize and hold territory that would form the basis of a declared Islamic caliphate.
“He was the guy who could build bridges between the foreign fighters and local Iraqis,” said William McCants, a scholar of militant Islam and author of “The ISIS Apocalypse,” a 2015 history of the Islamic State, which is also called ISIS. “His ability to move between these two factions helped his rise to become caliph and then allowed him to stay on top.”
Although rivals and foes would initially dismiss him as a mere spiritual leader and figurehead, Mr. Baghdadi “proved himself to be a capable and cagey leader, politically,” McCants said.
Mr. Baghdadi’s public profile diminished considerably after 2015, amid frequent, unverified reports that he had been wounded or even killed in an airstrike. His last confirmed statement was an audio address, posted to jihadist websites in November 2016, offering encouragement to followers after the Iraqi government began its campaign to retake Mosul.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.