U.S. Announces Death of ISIS Leader: Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi
Blake Berry '23
On the weekend of Oct. 26, President Trump announced the death of ISIS Leader Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi by the hands of U.S. forces and their allies. President Trump originally teased the media with this announcement through a Tweet on Saturday, Oct. 26, with the official confirmation released on Sunday, Oct. 27. This event is the largest of its kind since the announcement from former President Barack Obama of the death of terrorist and Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, which many are comparing to the death of Al-Baghdadi.
ISIS’ reign of terror began in 2013, when they gained infamy for quickly gathering followers and territory. Their use of social media platforms as a form of terrorism was new and unique, with members uploading and spreading horrific acts, such as beheadings, through the internet. In addition, ISIS has been at the helm of many terrorist attacks, including but not limited to the Nov. 2015 Paris Attacks, the Pulse Nightclub Shooting in Florida, and the Truck Attack in Nice, France. These acts and many more had placed the terrorist organization in the crosshairs of different groups and countries, and in recent years after multiple attempts, it started to seem as if ISIS was finally being pushed out of Syria in the Spring of 2019.
However, after the announcement from President Trump that U.S. soldiers would withdraw from Syria, some feared that the terrorist group would be able to rise again. This removal also meant that U.S. ally, the Kurds, would be open to incursion by Turkey for differing religious beliefs.
The possible revival of ISIS and imminent threat of Turkey for the Kurds because of President Trump’s decision to remove U.S. soldiers from Syria faced heavy backlash, yet the order continued, and U.S. troops began to leave Syria.
For a variety of people around the world, this was the end of the story for the U.S. troop removal in Syria, however, we now know that much more was in the works during this time.
On the night of Oct. 26, a joint operation was conducted by the United States, Iraq, Turkey, and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. In total, only three Allied units were injured in the raid, two soldiers and a dog named Conan, who has received mass fame on the internet for his service. The raid also claimed the lives of between 16 and 21 other individuals, including women and children, as well as ISIS fighters, and other civilians in the small area Al-Baghdadi was hiding in.
Al-Baghdadi fled from U.S. soldiers during the incursion into a nearby tunnel network. Once reaching a dead end, Al-Baghdadi detonated an explosive suicide vest, killing himself, as well as two other children who were caught in the blast.
President Trump held a press conference about this successful raid, leaving no niceties for the former terrorist leader by saying, “He died after running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering and crying and screaming the whole way… He died like a dog. He died like a coward.”
ISIS did not recognize the death of their leader officially until days after his death, where they claimed a new leader and said they would take revenge on the United States for killing Al-Baghdadi. In what capacity this may or may not come is currently unknown, however, after the death of their leader, it is likely it will take time for the terrorist organization to regroup enough to even consider an act of revenge.
The death of Al-Baghdadi means a great deal for the fight against ISIS and global terrorism. After witnessing the impact of the death of Osama Bin Laden in 2011, and how little Al-Qaeda has appeared in the news since, it may finally be safe to say that the world will be getting a break from the terrors of ISIS.
However, with the rise of a possible new leader in the chain of command, the fight is not yet over. ISIS will likely continue to operate, although on a smaller scale than in years past, as the void created by the death of their infamous leader will likely throw the organization into chaos.
The actions of the United States forces and Allies on the weekend of Oct. 26 will continue to be felt for years to come. Although ISIS has not been eradicated, with the recent victories in Syria over the terrorist group, they are at a severe disadvantage with low morale.
On a more international scale, with the current impeachment hearings about to go public, the death of Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi is arguably some of the first good press for President Trump in recent months. With praise from allies who have been at large with the United States President on many issues, this could prove a boon for the President’s public perception going into both the final leg of his term and the beginning of the hearings for his impeachment.