ISIS leader and self-styled calif Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead. During a raid by U.S. Special Operations forces on a compound in northern Syria where Baghdadi was hiding out, Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest, killing himself and three of his children he had dragged into a tunnel where he was cornered by U.S. special forces and their attack dogs.
U.S. President Trump gave details of the two-hour raid in a speech to the nation in which he praised the U.S. forces as the best in the world.
Americans elected Donald Trump with the hope that he could drain the swamp. For many of us it includes bringing a halt to the threat of Islamism—terrorism and the Islamic infiltration that seeks to eliminate our freedom of speech and exercise of religion—which transcends any ethnic or cultural attachment to one’s native land. However, the US-led strikes against ISIS and training of Middle East and African countries to fight Islamic extremism has not only prolonged the fighting; it has inadvertently brought ISIS fighters and their Islamist doctrine inside the Western home front.
American policy for years in the Middle East, however, has failed to address the root of the problem, which is an anthropological and political one: the Islamization of society. Instead of clamping down on the Wahabbi diffusion of the Saudis and naming the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, it has thus far pursued a realpolitik approach. Far be it for me to place myself in the role of the Chief Executive or the statesmen who make decisions for us, but we have limited ourselves to sustaining economic ties with (rogue) Islamic nations so long as they comply in carrying out military operations against ISIS and its affiliates. This only creates tribal factions, as with the Sri Lankan bombings.
There is also a lack of strategy as to how to reconstruct ISIS-held areas after its eventual defeat. For example, part of the Popular Mobilization Forces, who have helped in the fight against ISIS, are composed of members of Hash’d al-Sha’bi, a predominately Shi’ite paramilitary unit. Since half of the PMF fought against the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, they have been dogged by allegations of war crimes and human rights violations. Are they going to have a future political role in the region?
Despite certain inconsistencies, Trump has displayed more constancy in fighting Islamic radicalism than his predecessors. The most important one, I hold, associating the terrorism carried out by Muslims to their religion: Islamic extremism. He has imposed a line of new sanctions on an Iranian-backed terror organization, Hezbollah, and its top allies in the Hamas movement operating in the Gaza Strip, as well as the Islamic Liwaa al-Thawra, which assassinated Egyptian General Adel Ragai in 2016, and the Hasm Islamists, who killed other Egyptian national security figures. Trump has also taken on some nongovernmental organizations that have at least indirectly aided Islamic terrorists, such as his decision to withhold $65 million of a planned $125 million funding installment to UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine, specifically $45 million pledged to the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA). The Saudi-backed Hamas has been carrying out military training for UNRWA UNRWA children: they are given “machine guns and schooled for war, while top Hamas officials on site encourage jihad, and lecture on the importance of taking back their villages — by force of arms.”
President Trump recently pulled out U.S. Special Forces (numbering between 50-100 personnel) from northern Syria making way for a Turkish invasion some 20-30 kilometers in from the border. While Turkey claims it needed a “safe zone” (i.e., a zone free from Kurdish fighters and civilians) to resettle Syrian refugees currently in Turkey, commentators pointed out there have been no terror attacks by Kurds against Turkey from the territory since 2012.
After the U.S.retreat, Turkey proceeded to attack Kurdish positions, even using chemical agentsagainst Kurdish civilians, including children. While the U.S. withdrawal from Syria has drawn mixed reviews across the political aisle, both the withdrawal and the death of Baghdadi raises the question of whether the events will give rise to ISIS 2.0. At present, the U.S. announced that it will send armored vehicles and combat troops into eastern Syria to secure oil fields from being taken over by ISIS. (Meanwhile, Russia, which is using the American withdrawal to gain prominent in the region, has already accused the U.S. troops of stealing massive amounts of oil from the fields.)
Most importantly, the announcement that the U.S. will secure the oil fields comes with another U.S. revelation that more than 100 ISIS prisoners have already escaped since the Kurds were forced to abandon prisons where they were guarding ISIS fjihadis and fight for their lives against the Turks. The U.S. negotiated a ceasefire allowing the remaining Kurdish fighters to withdraw from the area. When it comes to projection of ISIS 2.0, a worst case scenario would see more ISIS prisoners and ISIS families on the loose due to the American and Kurdish withdrawal. There are an estimated 10,000 ISIS fighters and 100,000 ISIS family members that could potential melt back into the region or escape to their countries of origin.
The truth of the matter is that persuading the public that atrocities carried out by Muslims are spontaneous and not contrived from Islamic texts has only aided, as the mainstream media, most politicians, and many churchmen argue, Islamists in their collective crusade to achieve a sharia-based global community. As Ayaan Hirsi Ali explained, “The West is ‘obsessed’ with terror and this makes it blind to the broader threat of the dawa, ‘Islamic proselytizing:’ the ideology behind the terror attacks.” Tackling Islamic jihad will not be one by killing off terrorists, but by getting to the root of the problem: Islam, i.e., the religious tenet of Allah and his terrorist Prophet Muhammad.
Any quotes sources not cited may be found in my book Islam: Religion of Peace? The Violation of Natural Rights and Western Cover-Up.
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