On October 27, U.S. President Donald Trump declared the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi after a U.S. military raid in northwest Syria. Baghdadi had taken charge in 2014, slaughtering thousands across the world while also spreading an Islamic extremist ideology. Although Trump was successful in terminating “the world’s number one terrorist leader,” this action raises several questions in regards to the safety of Middle Easterners.
Are people in the Middle East protected from the Islamic State now that the organization’s leader is dead? Will they remain in danger? Will the U.S. government carefully monitor any possible outbursts concerning the death of Baghdadi? Will ISIS want revenge on the death of their founder? These questions are crucial to answer in order to understand the safety of Middle Easterners and Americans alike.
Fifteen minutes following the death of Baghdadi, DNA tests were conducted and soon positively confirmed his identity. Sources told CNN News that U.S. teams had collected body parts back after the mission. Trump announced that they had also obtained “highly sensitive material and information from the raid, much having to do with ISIS’ origins, future plans […] things that we very much want.”
According to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, “This is a devastating blow. This is not just their leader, it’s their founder. He was an inspirational leader in many ways. He formed ISIS in 2014 and he led to establishing the physical caliphate throughout the region, so this is a major blow to them.”
Regardless of Baghdadi’s death, ISIS will continue to terrorize people in the Middle East and around the world, perhaps organizing attacks in the U.S. as well. To confirm this, world leaders and regional analysts have warned that even with their leader’s death, ISIS would remain a threat worldwide. In addition, Michael Leiter, who directed the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center from 2007 to 2011, says, “the threat is not gone at all.”
The question today relies on whether Trump and his government have any intent on controlling these threats, and staying alert for what happens after.
In an effort to answer the question of what is to come after the successful operation, Esper discusses his plan of action. “Turkey will continue to support anti-terror efforts as it has done in the past. I am confident that a decisive struggle against terrorism, in line with the spirit of alliance, will bring peace to all humanity.” He added that, “we’re going to watch carefully [our] next steps and as a new leader and leaders pop up, we’ll go after them as well.”
Ultimately, if the U.S. government is capable of organizing such a high-risk mission to take out Baghdadi, they should also be capable of protecting the Middle East, arguably the world as well, from possible acts of revenge. Without question, it is the government’s job to support not only the American nation, but any and all of its affiliates. Ceasing any further and unnecessary mortalities from ISIS should be just as important to the U.S. government as capturing their leader.