ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been a highly-secretive figure. There exists only a single video of him. There have been reports of his death for more than a year. And yet, he remains the titular head of the terrorist organization, even the one that has now been decimated by U.S. and allied forces under the command of President Donald Trump.
This week, for the first time in months, the terrorist group has released what it claims to be a new audio message from their leader; in it, Baghdadi appears to acknowledge the sorry state that ISIS is in these days while calling on his faithful jihadists to stay the course and exercise patience.
“For the believer Mujahideen, the scale of victory or defeat is not counting on a city or town being stolen or subject to those who have aerial superiority, or intercontinental missiles or smart bombs, and not how many followers they have,” he says on the tape. “The scale depends on how much faith the worshipper has.”
You’d think with this kind of mindset ISIS could lay down their bombs and weapons and simply devote themselves to the worship of their god, but apparently that’s not what Baghdadi is actually recommending.
He praises “lone wolves in the lands of the crusaders in Canada, Europe and elsewhere for their work in supporting their brothers” and encouraged ISIS sympathizers to launch attacks of their own accord. “A bullet or a stab or a bomb would be worth a thousand operations,” he advises. “And don’t forget to drive into crowds in the streets.”
Religion of peace!
A CentCom spokesperson said they were aware of the tape but could not confirm or deny that it was actually Baghdadi on the recording.
“US Central Command is aware of the alleged audio recording,” said spokesperson Capt. William Urban. “I am not going to comment on our assessment of the recording. We do not know where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is at this time, but he continues to be someone that we are interested in removing from the battlefield.”
Whether or not the U.S. is ever able to cut the head off this particular snake, there can be no doubt that ISIS is not the same powerful, growing caliphate that it was only a few years ago. While they still pose a potent terrorist threat to our country and our allies in the Middle East and Europe, their play for actual territory appears to have met its decisive end thanks to the effective action of our extraordinary military and our determined commander-in-chief.
The threat of radical Islam, in general, will no doubt be with us throughout the rest of our lives, but if we keep electing people who actually take that threat seriously, we can keep it from growing into something that destabilizes the world.