ISIS has long been a threat to the world since its creation in 2013. Recently the group has taken credit for several attacks committed across Europe and ramping up their recruitment efforts.
However, ISIS just took a huge hit. On Tuesday, The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed great news: The organization’s primary leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is dead. (via Reuters)
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is a nonpartisan organization for Syria that promotes democracy, human rights, and freedom for all. They have served as a major source of information on the atrocities committed within Syria. They confirmed al-Baghdadi’s death after Iraqi troops rooted out ISIS in the final efforts of a campaign to retake Mosul. Verifiable information was obtained while securing the city that proved the ISIS leader’s death.
Suspicions of al-Baghdadi’s death began flowing after Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed in June that an airstrike near Raqqa killed a gathering of ISIS leaders. Until now, the claim could not be verified. The Pentagon is currently undergoing efforts to verify the claim, though it has been noted that the Syrian Observatory is a reputable source of information.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was a member of various terrorist organizations throughout his adult life. Baghdadi formed ISIS in 2013, established a worldwide caliphate (single one-world “government”) in 2014 and was the Caliph or leader/prophet of the organization. The move sparked a lot of controversy among other terrorist organizations in the area, in particular Al-Qaeda, leading to civil war among the groups.
Baghdadi had a reputation for being a very cunning and ruthless commander on the battlefield. As ISIS grew in power and reputation under his rule, recruits came pouring in to fuel his empire, making the group a rapidly growing threat.
With the confirmation of his death comes the question of who will replace Baghdadi as the leader of ISIS. Speculation by analysts say the two most likely candidates are Iyad al-Obaidi and Ayad al-Jumaili. Al-Obaidi was working as war minister for Baghdadi and al-Jumaili oversees the Amniya security agency. Analysts have also claimed that neither would declare themselves ‘Caliph’ which might hurt the organization’s influence over its current members.
Al-Baghdadi’s death comes after the similarly confirmed death of the chief cleric to ISIS, Turki al-Bin’ali. The death of two important figureheads in the terrorist organization have likely crippled its effectiveness and raised doubt about its validity to declare itself a Caliphate. No doubt recruitment efforts will decline and infighting will occur as the organization seeks to restructure itself in the wake of Baghdadi’s death.
Though this is excellent news for the war on terror effort, the battle is still far from over. Remnants of ISIS litter the Middle East and other terrorist groups still hide in the shadows waiting for their chance to rise to power. Al-Qaeda remains a strong enemy that could easily rise to greater power should ISIS fall.
The death of al-Baghdadi sounds a warning bell to the world that terrorism will not be tolerated and hopefully strikes fear into the hearts of those who would seek to cause chaos of their own.