The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has endured significant territorial losses since its peak a year ago. Additional coalition deployments, an improving information campaign, a resurgent Iraqi army, targeted financial sanctions, and tireless diplomacy have set the stage for the eventual reduction of the self-proclaimed caliphate. Concurrent with these efforts is a large manhunt to bring Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, its leader, to justice. While this is an important consideration, defeating this movement is a much more pressing and daunting task. The best way to defeat ISIL in the long term is to leave Abu Bakr in place â€“ as the caliph who lost his kingdom. Donâ€™t take our word for ISILâ€™s struggles; its spokesman Mohammad al Adnani admitted as much last week when he warned that the loss of movement leaders, past or future, would not deter the â€œsoldiers of the stateâ€ from continuing the fight as insurgents, much like they did prior to 2013. Adnani, as dramatic as ever in this latest speech, does offer a point that we should consider. The specific targeting of this groupâ€™s leadership (via a decapitation campaign) has had mixed results in the past. In fact, it was the killing of Abu Musab al Zarqawi that probably saved what eventually became the Islamic State of Iraq in late 2006.
|Place of Publication||Washington D.C.|
|Publication status||Published - 2016|