It is doubtful that ISIS – the Islamic State terrorist organization – was without a leader for more than a few hours after its former head, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, died by his own hand rather than be captured in a raid by U.S. forces in Syria. ISIS already had a succession plan in place before al-Baghdadi died.
Even had such a plan not existed, evil organizations such as ISIS are filled with members more than willing to take leadership roles.
And, in the unlikely event that ISIS as an organized entity were to disappear, there are scores of other Islamic extremist groups ready to leap into the headlines. Al-Qaida, for one, remains a major threat.
It has been pointed out that the U.S. campaign against Islamic terrorism and regimes that sponsor it is the longest conflict in our history. Some young men and women entering the military this year had not been born when the conflict was launched by the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.
It is appropriate for Americans to rethink our strategy in that conflict. Being bogged down in unwinnable wars such as that in Afghanistan accomplishes little to deter Islamic terrorists.
But in some form, the campaign simply must continue. Terrorists groups such as ISIS cannot be defeated as long as they can find sick minds – including some right here in the United States – eager to shed blood.
There is some reason for hope, however. It was demonstrated in the U.S. raid that resulted in al-Baghdadi’s death. As President Donald Trump emphasized in revealing the raid, it was conducted with the full support of Russia, Turkey and Syria, and with help from our Kurdish allies. It has not escaped their leaders that Islamic terrorism is a threat to all of us.
And that solidarity should not escape the notice of Islamic terrorists. Al-Baghdadi’s successor may have a few days to enjoy his new power. Then the realization should sink in that he, too, has become a target with no safe place to hide.