Islamic State still poses threat after death of al-Baghdadi
October 28, 2019 - The killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi by U.S. forces leaves so-called Islamic State without an obvious leader, but the militant group remains a dangerous threat in Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond.
The loss of al-Baghdadi is a major setback for an organisation that in March was forced by American troops and Kurdish forces out of the last portion of its self-declared “caliphate,” which once spanned a swath of Iraq and Syria.
But the militant group, which arose from the remnants of al-Qaeda in Iraq after that group’s defeat by U.S.-led forces in 2008, has ambitions to regenerate yet again.
Key to the Islamic State is its “kill where you are” ethos, encouraging a far-flung network of followers, including those in the United States, to commit violence however and wherever they can. That jihadist message is likely to live on, even with the death of al-Baghdadi.
That means U.S. forces, perhaps in reduced numbers, will continue hunting and attacking key Islamic State targets, even as President Donald Trump says he’s committed to a 2016 campaign pledge to bring them home and end “endless wars” started under his predecessors.
Trump earlier this month went from declaring a near-complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria to deciding that some – perhaps several hundred – must stay to keep eastern Syria’s oil fields from falling back into the hands of the Islamic State. Trump also agreed to keep about 150 U.S. troops at a base in southern Syria.