What Baghdadi’s Death Tells Us About the Real Terror Threat
Always look for the country behind the curtain.
What’s the best place to look for the terrorist leader of a defeated Islamic terrorist group? When his men are on the run, look for his hideout in or near the country that sponsors him.
We didn’t find Osama bin Laden hiding in a cave in Afghanistan, but in a compound in a Pakistani military city. And Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the former Caliph of ISIS, wasn’t hanging out in his home turf, but in an area controlled by Turkey and its allied Islamist militias right off the Turkish border.
Osama bin Laden’s death confirmed the reports of his ties to Pakistan, and Baghdadi’s death confirmed the rumors of the links between ISIS and Turkey. Those links may not as run as deep as those between Pakistan, the Taliban, and Al Qaeda, but when Baghdadi wanted someplace to hide out with his family, he didn’t huddle with his forces, but picked a location under the shadow of the Turkish military.
As Robert Spencer, an expert on the theology and geopolitics of Islamic terrorism, noted, “It strains credulity that Turkey, with its interests in northern Syria, did not know he was there. Al-Baghdadi was killed in Barisha in the Idlib province, a town of no more than 2,500 people right on the Turkish border.”