Reports of the death of the leader of ISIS (“Islamic state”, ISIS banned in Russia and other countries a terrorist group), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, might have been exaggerated – at least, this information was reported by the Iraqi interior Ministry. However, the group continues to suffer military setbacks, the biggest of which was the loss of the battle for Mosul. It is obvious that in a short time can fall the Syrian ISIS stronghold of raqqa. But will this mean that the terrorists suffered a devastating blow, followed by a series of schisms and final collapse? Or the extremists will only open a new frightening possibilities?
About a week after the TV station Al Sumaria, citing a source in the Iraqi province of Nineveh, said that supporters of the ISIL acknowledged the death of al-Baghdadi and other Iraqi and Kurdish sources said that the head of the terrorist group, most likely, is still alive – 99%. Ultimately, the question of whether alive or dead, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is not so important.
The problem is that most experts are convinced that the military defeat of ISIS and the loss of the self-proclaimed “Caliphate” earlier conquered territories in Iraq and Syria does not mean the elimination of this group. Moreover, the risk of loss of controlled land perhaps even grow.
Moreover, we should not forget the following fact: if earlier about ISIL, it was possible to speak as about the group, acting mainly in Iraq (where it originated) and in Syria, now in just a few years the “Islamic state” has turned into an organization with branches and supporters not only in the middle East, but in Afghanistan, the Philippines, West Africa, Europe, Australia… the List goes on. In this sense, “Islamic state” jihadist was intercepted by the palm of created Osama bin Laden “al-Qaeda” (the terrorist group banned in Russia and other countries). However, al-Qaeda, losing the competition with supporters of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, oddly enough, something won. Using the fact that the world’s attention was switched to ISIS, she quietly managed not only to survive but to regroup and even turn it into a number of regions in strong player in the jihadist field (especially in Syria, where they were active obviously or secretly connected with “al-Qaeda” militants).
The loss of Mosul and (in the future) Rakki – of course, for ISIS supporters – the event is not joyful. And at the same time, it is unlikely this fatal phenomenon. Neither is fatal to the “Islamic state” loss leader, and there are others, even if that means a fight for power. In any event, the groups are still large areas in Iraq and Syria. She still has thousands of fighters. And – more importantly – she has ideas that have supporters far outside the war-torn region.
– Talk about the imminent end of the LIH too optimistic (bearing in mind that these conversations are opponents of the “Islamic state”), – the scholar, President of the Institute of religion and politics Alexander IGNATENKO. – The fact that the fall of Mosul and a very possible drop of Raqqa, the “capital” of the “Islamic state” does not mean the end of ISIS. And there are several reasons. The first is that although the “Islamic state” and associated with “Sirak” (that is, from the territory of Syria and Iraq), during its existence, it formed no less than three dozen “provinces” (“provinces”), that is, organizational-territorial “branches” of this “Islamic state”. Including even the “governorate” in the Philippines, which are far from the “Sirak”. But now it’s not about them, although there may occur a variety of things. We need to talk about what a “branch” of ISIS is in West Africa (the area of coverage of a former Boko Haram, which was declared the “Vilayet” of the “Islamic state”). Such “branches” in Libya – and that is very important, in Egypt – in the Sinai do not stop fighting. And the question will be: where will move the center of the “Islamic state”? It is not excluded that he may move to the Sinai Peninsula. And it would seem that it would be relatively easy for the Egyptian armed forces and law enforcement agencies to eliminate this “governorate”, but, despite the use of considerable force, this is not happening… I would have called the newly formed “governorate of Khorasan” – in Afghanistan and Pakistan (with some capture tsentralnoaziatsky States of the CIS). These “branches” can move and guidance and control center of the “Islamic state” – if one exists.
– What do you mean?
– I have the impression that the “branches” of the “Islamic state” led by some, shall we say, of the state centre. Not in the sense that all of the shares and “affiliates” in charge of “capitals” of Mosul (until recently) and Raqqa (up to date).
– So what are some government centers can be a guide of which you speak?
– I don’t feel entitled to name any state. But can rely on the fact that the last time a group of countries (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE and Bahrain) accuses one middle Eastern state that it supports terrorist groups, among which are called “Muslim Brothers” (a group recognized in Russia as terrorist and banned – “MK”), “al-Qaeda” and – attention! – “Islamic state”…
– Assume that sooner or later ISIS will be beat from their this grouping of territories in Syria and Iraq. But it’s not difficult if it is a fight against terrorists? Assume that the tip runs. Scatter the doubters. But the militants will not evaporate, do not hop all the time somewhere in the other “branch”. Someone will continue to fight.
– No doubt, someone will fight. When I listed the most active “vilayets” (West Africa, Sinai, Khorasan, Libya, maybe Somalia), I meant that fighters could move – but the prospects of the “Islamic state” are different options. The elimination of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may open another opportunity for the “Islamic state” – namely, reformatting and existence after the capture by coalition forces of Mosul (and then Raqqa) as amended the “Islamic state” that will change its ideology and politics. After all, the “Islamic state” has existed for so long and has achieved certain results in the middle East, not least because it is in some sense played the role of defender of Sunni interests in Syria and Iraq. And the changes that occur and will occur in the middle East, must take into account the interests of the Sunnis in those conditions, when the region is the expansion of Shiite Iran in the same Iraq and Syria. Quite impossible to exclude that the real or imaginary elimination of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (and it was reported that along with it could be destroyed by a number of representatives of command structure of ISIS) can translate to the fact that reformatted the “Islamic state” will remain to exist as a sort of administrative-territorial formations on the territory of separated or federalize Syria (and partly in Iraq). There are various options, including such. Lately observed this trend: for example, group “Tahrir Hayat al-sham”, the core of which is “Dzhebhat EN-Nusra” (a terrorist group banned in Russia), according to the latest reports, deals – you’ll laugh! that eliminates the network of sleeper cells of the “Islamic state” in the Syrian province of Idlib. That is, I can imagine such a policy change is clearly a terrorist education (Islamic state) when some part of it will fight against the terrorist acts of the “Islamic state” may be a “Palace coup” in the absence of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the entire elite of the IG.
– Since we are talking about “the Hyatt Tahrir al-sham”, I have noticed that even under the guise of “Dzhebhat an-Nusra”, which acted as a branch of “al-Qaeda”, the group was a militant rival of the Islamic state. Even former CIA Director Petraeus at the time, proposed the use of “Dzhebhat EN-Nusra” in the fight against ISIL… IN this regard does not arise any concerns that losing leaders and the territory, “Islamic state” will be able to enter into new alliances? Indeed, in the absence of the leadership ambitions of al-Baghdadi will be no obstacles for unification of ISIS and the same “Khayat Tahrir al-sham” under one banner.
– This probability – in theory – exist. Now the group “Hayat Tahrir al-sham”, which was joined by a number of Syrian armed groups engaged in what presents as a “counter-terrorist” struggle, not just fighting with the “Islamic state” as such. Perhaps they mean “post-Osiloskop” the existence of Syria, when the country will be subject to federalization. In this situation, it is important to “Hayat Tahrir al-Scham” has become the object of destruction, and remained in the form of some administrative-territorial units, which they have in Idlib province. But you are absolutely right when you say that with all the contradictions and clashes between the “Dzhebhat EN-Nusra” and “Islamic state” there is a possibility (we now can’t tell how big it is) enterprises of the former “al-Qaeda” (i.e. “dzhebhat an-Nusra” and smaller groups) transformed the “Islamic state”. Because between them, in principle, there is absolutely no religious-ideological contradictions (in this part it is one to one!). In the absence of such an ambitious policy as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, which could not be blocked with someone, it does not rule out the Association of different groups and different administrative-territorial formations. Here it should be noted that some time ago on the audiotape was made by the current leader of “al-Qaeda” Ayman al-Zawahiri, calling to unite all those who fight against the West on many fronts (there are also lists Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and many other places). So the possibility of Union there is – and it grows with the removal from the scene of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his men…