The Lessons Of Baghdadi: Interrogation, Help From Allies, And Forward-Deployed U.S. Forces; “ISIS Will Now Likely Accelerate Any Planned Attacks Against The West, And May Look To Target Christian Markets”
The title above comes from this morning’s/October 27, 2019 Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Editorial Board comment. What a great day for humanity that such an evildoer like Baghdadi no longer walks this Earth. Good riddance. As you all know by know, Baghdadi blew himself up with a homocide vest as U.S. Special Forces were about to close in on him in Syria. As the WSJ noted, “the death of Islamic State leader Abu bakr al-Baghdadi at the hands of American special forces won’t end the threat from radical Islam. But, it is an important victory for America’s anti-terrorism strategy, with lessons for the future.”
POTUS Trump, in public comments on Sunday, said U.S. forces had monitored Baghdadi “for a couple of weeks,” and planned the nighttime raid that chased the terrorist into a tunnel near Idlib in northwestern Syria, where the jihadist detonated a suicide [homicide] vest. I write homicide vest because Baghdadi, according to numerous media outlets, “dragged his three children” into the tunnel with him, knowing he was going to blow them up along with himself. The Editoral Board adds that “the death of Baghdadi is important as a matter of simple justice given his murderous history. And, it informs other jihadists that they can achieve no victory, and are likewise doomed to die in a tunnel or bomb blast [drone strike].”
“The raid also shows the importance of intelligence gathered from prisoners,” the Editorial Board noted. “Iraqi officials say their interrogation of captured ISIS fighters in recent months, provided news [clues] about Baghdadi’s location. The American left has tried to discredit interrogation since the Iraq war but, it remains crucial to preventing future attacks and killing terrorist leaders.”
“Another lesson,” the WSJ noted, “is the importance of a presence on the ground of American troops and allies. Malzoum Abdi, chief of the Syrian Democratic Forces allied with the U.S., tweeted that “for five months there has been joint intell operations on the ground. U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria were able to coordinate with allies who knew the area and plot raids [the fateful raid] rather than use standoff weapons,” which would have made obtaining post-mortem DNA challenging to say the least. “This alllowed U.S. soldiers to collect files as they did in the bin Laden raid,” the WSJ noted. “Such raids would be farf more dfficult without forward-deployed troops who can take the fight to the terrorists on their turf, rather than allowing sancturaries, and thus allowing terrorists to plan operations” as they did in Afghanistan prior to 9/11/.
“Maintaining this regional pressure is crucial because we know jihadist forces can reorganize [reconstitute] under new leadership,” the WSJ observed. “That’s what Baghdadi did after [then] POTUS Obama ordered all U.S. forces out of Iraq in 2011.” In the vacuum created in the aftermath of the U.S. withdrawal, Baghdadi “declaried an [Islamic] “caliphate” across western Iraq and Syria, terrorizing minorities and other Muslims, beheading Americans [and other Westerners], and Arab Christians on camera.”
“With that history, it took some nerve for Susan Rice, POTUS Obama’s national security adviser, to lecture on CBS’s “Face The Nation,” on Sunday that “you can’t take the pressure off these groups and not expect them to reconstitute.” “She also criticized POTUS Trump’s recent decesion to withdraw U.S. forces from northern Syria,” a decision the WSJ has also criticized. “But, that’s what Ms. Rice’s former boss [POTUS Obama] did in Iraq, while allowing the Islamic State to control huge swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria. Maybe sit this one out Ms. Rice,” the WSJ noted.
POTUS Trump “has been sending mixed signals since his impulsive decision to cede northern Syria to Turkey after a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan,” the WSJ noted. “POTUS Trump now says he wants to keep enough forces on the ground to control the local oil fields; and, word has leaked the Pentagon may send tanks as part of this job [mission]. This suggests withdrawal isn’t as “simple” as Mr. Trump likes to say when he is playing to isolationists.”
“Beyond the oil, the Baghdadi raid underscores the anti-terrorist purpose of maintaining a U.S. military presence,” the WSJ argues. “The U.S. homeland hasn’t suffered a successful jihadist attack, foreign-planned or inspired, for some time. This isn’t an accident. It’s the result of persistent security and intelligence work that coordinates with allies to pursue jihadists wherever they are around the world.”
“In his better moments, Mr. Trump seems to understand this,” the WSJ wrote. “As he basks in the success of the Idlib raid, he should re-think his retreat [withdrawal] from Syria in a still dangerous world.”
I think these are all accurate lessons/conclusions to draw from the killing of this butcher — someone the Washington Post and New York Times described as a “noted theologian.” Journalism is truly dead. As former NATO Supreme Commander (Ret.) ADM. Stavridis said publicly on Monday, “ISIS will likely accelerate planned attacks after the death of its leader, and may look to target Christian markets as a result.” ADM. Stavridis also warned that the U.S. may now lack the kind of actionable intelligence it received — from Iraqi and Syrian Kurds — to repeat another Baghdadi-type operation, because the Kurds feel betrayed. There is little doubt that some very important sources of human (HUMINT) intelligence have been lost as a result of the President’s decision to mostly withdraw in Syria. We will be more depependent on allies and third parties, and somewhat flying blind as the saying goes.
Beyond the potential intelligence loss, is the fact that while the ISIS leader is no more, the movement remains. That is why I continue to argue that we need to kill the idea/philosophy, in order to rid ourselves of this most odious scourge. In order to do that, the world needs to conduct a Nuremberg-style Crimes Against Humanity Trial for any remaining ISIS leaders. See my article on this blog: “We Need A Judgement At Raqqa,” for additional background. RCP, fortunascorner.com