National Security

Operation Kayla Mueller — Baghdadi Dead

U.S. forces took out the self-proclaimed "caliph" of the Islamic State in a big win.

Nate Jackson · Oct. 28, 2019

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed “caliph” of the Islamic State, is dead after a U.S. military raid of his compound in northwest Syria. Al-Baghdadi was cornered in a tunnel underneath the compound, where he killed himself and three of his children. There were no serious casualties for Americans, and U.S. forces recovered his remains to confirm his demise. Baghdadi died as he lived — a cowardly thug.

“He was vicious and violent, and he died in a vicious and violent way, as a coward, running and crying,” President Donald Trump declared in a White House speech. “Baghdadi’s demise demonstrates America’s relentless pursuit of terrorist leaders, and our commitment to the enduring and total defeat of ISIS.”

This operation, which has been planned for at least 30 days, substantially rebutted criticism of Trump’s recent decision regarding troop movements in Syria. It was named “Operation Kayla” in memory of Kayla Mueller, the American medical-relief worker who was captured by ISIS in 2013 and then spent two years being tortured and raped by al-Baghdadi himself before she was murdered in 2015. Kayla’s parents, Marsha and Carl Mueller, thanked President Trump for his resolve. Her mother said, “If Obama had been as decisive as President Trump,” her daughter might be alive today.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi protested that Congress was not given advance notice about the operation. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich chastised Pelosi, noting: “The idea that politicians need to be briefed on a military operation while young men and women are risking their lives is just stupid. Nancy Pelosi ought to know better. … No politician has a right to know information that could get young men and women killed during the operational phase.”

For his part, Trump said he did not give notice to the House Intel Committee because “Adam Schiff is the biggest leaker in Washington.”

Thomas Joscelyn, a respected analyst on Islamic terrorism, noted, “Baghdadi’s death is significant. He was the supposed caliph, to whom thousands of followers around the globe pledged their allegiance. [But now the] caliphate controls little to no ground, and the self-declared caliph is dead.”

That’s true, but as the termination of Osama bin Laden proved, the threat of Islamic terrorism will endure for years as part of the larger asymmetric threat from Jihadistan.

The Wall Street Journal noted: “The raid also shows the importance of intelligence gathered from prisoners. Iraqi officials say their interrogation of captured ISIS fighters in recent months provided news about Baghdadi’s location. The American left has tried to discredit interrogation since the Iraq war, but it remains crucial to preventing future attacks and killing terror leaders.”

Finally, a footnote on the pathetic Trump Derangement Syndrome that has infected the hacks at The Washington Post: The paper originally ran the story under a title referring to al-Baghdadi as the “Islamic State’s ‘terrorist-in-chief.’” That was changed to refer to him as an “Austere Religious Scholar At Helm Of Islamic State Dies At 48.” That’s akin to labeling Osama a “Faithful Holy Man at Helm of Peace-Loving Islamists.” Outraged complaints led to a third title change referring to Baghdadi as an “extremist leader.” (No wonder Trump ordered the entire federal government to terminate subscriptions to The Post last week.)

The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh offered the best takeaway: “By calling a terrorist leader an austere (read: strict) scholar of Islam, didn’t the Post essentially imply that terrorism is fundamentally consistent with the precepts of the religion?” Moreover, just remember: The Washington Post is published in the same swamp full of people who loudly booed the president at Game 5 of the World Series last night — just hours after he announced a major triumph for the country.

Drain the swamp.

(Updated with further quotes.)

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