Abu Bakar Al-Baghdadi’s name is that, even after his death, continues to strike fear into the hearts of many. Notorious for being referenced in 911 calls from terrorists who claimed to perform certain acts in his name, Al-Baghdadi was not just the leader of ISIS, but was the embodiment of the spirit they claimed to possess.
Though the death of a leader with the same power and significance as Abu Bakar Al-Baghdadi should have a massive impact on ISIS’s drive to attack and their organization as a group, ISIS has actively come out and warned Americans and the rest of the world not to celebrate Al-Baghdadi’s death prematurely, claiming that they plan to come back stronger in the face of this assault. This dichotomy provokes the question: Will Al-Baghdadi’s death topple ISIS, or re-energize their vanishing base?
To answer this, we have to look at both sides of the debate. According to a BBC article on this same subject, “IS is likely to use the death of Baghdadi to rally its supporters in the name of revenge.” The death of a leader with the strength and power that Baghdadi had will anger many within ISIS, but the more difficult question to answer is whether or not that will catalyze further attacks. Other evidence suggests that ISIS is going to come back stronger. Having just appointed new leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Qurayshi, ISIS is ready to continue fighting. Amidst the chaos in Syria as a result of the American troop withdrawal, it appears as if ISIS will rise from the ashes of Al-Baghdadi’s death and re-emerge under al-Qurayshi.
Chaos and mayhem have always brewed disaster when without a power to keep them in check. History teaches humanity this profound lesson repeatedly. The formation of ISIS resulted almost directly from the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. When American troops withdrew, ISIS was allowed to prosper. In Afghanistan, the United States gave the group that later became Al-Queda weapons to fight the Soviets during the war of 1979-1989, and withdrew. Al-Queda was allowed to form under Osama bin Laden and Abdulah Azzam due to the lack of another significant power to keep them in check.