October 30, 2019

Al-Baghdadi’s death may end up reinvigorating Islamic State, says ex-U.S. Envoy

Al-Baghdadi’s death may end up reinvigorating Islamic State, says ex-U.S. Envoy


The assassination of Islamic State terrorist group (IS, banned in Russia) chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi could lead to the reinvigoration of the movement under a more radical and less reclusive leader, a top U.S. official said.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Chas Freeman made this known in an interview with Sputnik.

On Sunday, President Donald Trump announced that U.S. forces hunted down al-Baghdadi in Syria’s Idlib province.

READ ALSO: ISIS leader, al-Baghdadi’s best replacement ‘terminated’ by U.S. troops ― Trump

Trump said that al-Baghdadi blew up himself and three accompanying children by detonating a suicide vest when he found himself trapped at the end of a tunnel.

“His (al-Baghdadi’s) removal may well lead to a reinvigoration of the movement under a less reclusive leader,” Freeman, who also served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, said.

“The problem with assassinating leaders is that one cannot know for sure who will succeed them and whether the successor will be more or less effective than his dead predecessor,” he added.

According to Freeman, although al-Baghdadi was the founding father of the Islamic State, in recent years he has been essentially absent and invisible.

“He, therefore, did not seem to have much grip on the members of the Islamic State.

“It is not clear what role he played in the Islamic State’s territorial expansion or its collapse,” he said.

The assassination of al-Baghdadi may affect U.S. politics or even distract voters from the continual ratcheting up of the impeachment process against Trump, Freeman acknowledged.

READ ALSO: 5,000 ISIS militants with AIDS, hepatitis plead to be sent to home countries

However, with respect to the situation in Syria, little will change.

“In the real world of contention for control of Syria, it is unlikely to mean much,” he concluded.

Chas Freeman is a lifetime director of the Atlantic Council and served as U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission and Charge d’affaires at the U.S. embassies in Beijing and Bangkok.

Freeman also held several senior-level positions at the Department of Defense.