Al-Baghdadi’s Death and its Impact

On October 27, President Trump declared Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi dead. After a nighttime raid on the 26th, US forces emerged successful from Idlib Province, Syria with news of the death of the leader of ISIS. Al-Baghdadi was secretly situated in a compound in Barisha, Idlip Province, disclosing his identity to only his closest advisors and allies. No other residents seemed to realize his presence or identity. The US began tracking him 5 months ago when a courier of al-Baghdadi and his wife were captured in western Iraq. CIA agents scouted the areas, routes, and possible locations that the ISIS leader passed through. With help from Kurdish and Iraqi military, the villages and cities that al-Baghdadi traveled to were tracked and kept under careful surveillance.

US special forces began the nighttime raid on October 26, 5:00 pm. Eight helicopters flew towards the ISIS compound where al-Baghdadi was hidden, meeting enemy gunfire along the 70-minute trip. The American forces withstood the shots and landed at the compound at 6:10 pm. Soldiers ran towards the compound and ordered for the surrender of al-Baghdadi and other personnel; however, their commands went disobeyed, and the forces shot through the walls of the compound. Al-Baghdadi ran down a tunnel with US soldiers in hot pursuit, grabbing two children with him along the way. They soon became trapped at a dead end. Rather than surrender, he detonated the suicide bomb vest he was sporting and died immediately. The two children were also killed, along with four other women and two men with suicide vests elsewhere in the compound. 11 children were found and safely directed from the compound. Immediately following the raid’s completion, the US bombed the compound to destroy any physical remnants of al-Baghdadi’s honor within ISIS. 

DNA testing soon confirmed the death of al-Baghdadi. Al-Baghdadi’s remains were buried at sea within a day after his death. While ISIS may temporarily be leaderless, experts say that there is no guarantee of a plateau in their activity and strength. General Kenneth McKenzie, Head of the US Central Command, stated that ISIS will likely regroup and select a new leader soon, and they may attempt a counterattack that US forces are prepared for. ISIS’s presence certainly did not disappear after the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011; there is no evidence of its waning after the recent raid either.

Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, claimed on November 6 that Turkish forces captured one of the believed four wives of al-Baghdadi. He also declared that family members of the ISIS leader, including his older sister and brother-in-law, were in custody. While al-Baghdadi’s wife has already disclosed detailed information on ISIS and al-Baghdadi, further questioning and interrogation will hopefully reveal key information to dismantling the group and its terrorizing acts.

By Jessica Jiang

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