https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-baghdadi/islamic-states-baghdadi-in-undated-audio-urges-militants-to-keep-fighting-idUSKCN1C32C4

ISIS Leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi has seemingly resurfaced after nearly one year of silence. In an almost 46 minute audio release, Baghdadi urged ISIS militants to keep fighting and not to give up even though ISIS has lost a lot of territory in both Syria and Iraq. ┬áHe stated that their mission, to remain the caliphate, has not changed and urged his fighters to target the “infidel media” and Western forces. Russia had claimed that they had possibly killed Baghdadi in a May attack targeted at a meeting of ISIS commanders in Raqqa. It is believed that Baghdadi is hiding somewhere between Raqqa in Syria and Mosul, Iraq–where anti-ISIS drone attacks are more easily detected.

As we discussed earlier this week in class, the more bureaucratic an actor is and the more public support they have, the less affected they are by decapitation. ISIS has both bureaucracy and support (depending on location) and is arguably more powerful than Al Qaeda. ISISs’ presence in Syria has been largely wiped out, but ISIS is still a formidable threat worldwide– having many fighters in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and various places in Africa. It is unlikely that if Baghdadi is ultimately killed that it will have a huge impact on ISIS as a terrorist organization, but his recent resurfacing will undoubtedly bolster the resolve of many of his fighters who may have been weakening under more serious and frequent attacks by both the U.S., Russia, Britain and Iran.

Sandra