The long-time leader of terrorist organization ISIL, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is now dead- killed by U.S. forces. President Donald Trump called this a victory. But is ISIL still a global threat?
CGTN’s Michal Bardavid has more from the Turkish-Syria border.
On Oct. 27, U.S. President Donald Trump announced to the world that American forces had killed ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Just two days later, another declaration by Trump: this time claiming to have killed his likely successor.
On Twitter, Trump wrote “Just confirmed that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s number one replacement has been terminated by American troops. Most likely would have taken the top spot – Now he is also dead!”
He was likely referring to ISIL spokesman, Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir who U.S. officials confirmed was killed.
But while many world leaders congratulated Trump, most also cautioned that the fight isn’t over, and ISIL is yet to be defeated completely.
“These types of terrorist organizations always have a ‘plan A’ and ‘plan B’ leader alternatives ready, because anyone can be eliminated at any moment. There is no leader-for-life concept,” said Fahri Erenel, a security expert at TASAM, and also a retired brigadier general of Turkey.
But the success of ISIL wasn’t dependent on its leader. The instability in the Middle East also played a role in the groups rise.
Erenel stressed that it was a power vacuum in Iraq and Syria that created an opportunity for ISIL to capture territory in 2014. Erenel said the current geopolitical conditions such as Russia’s support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to regain control of Syria won’t allow that to happen again.
“That’s why I believe they will move out of this geography,” said Erenel. “It won’t be to Afghanistan as the Taliban is dominant there> It won’t be Nigeria either. I believe it could be Northern Africa.”
But ISIL does not have just one base. It has spread its influence with operatives and sleeper cells scattered in different regions around the world including Europe and Asia, which makes it more challenging to destroy.
ISIL still poses a major threat to Turkey as well just in October of this year, over 100 ISIL suspects were detained in operations across the country.
The U.S. recently stated that it would maintain some presence in Syria to protect oil fields from falling into the hands of ISIL, acknowledging that the terrorist organization still poses a threat in the region. World leaders agree that the fight against ISIL still continues even though killing Baghdadi certainly is an achievement, it is not enough to call a victory just yet.