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Ashutosh Mishra

By Ashutosh Mishra

Bhubaneswar: Islamic State (IS) chief, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may have killed himself by detonating a suicide vest to avoid capture by the US forces inside a tunnel in Syria on October 26 but his violent legacy is still being discussed amidst fears that his followers may soon re-group themselves under a new leader. The IS, by no means, is dead.

Baghdadi, who grew up learning the Koran from his father at a mosque in Samara to the north of Baghdad, wanted to establish a caliphate that would encompass the whole of Syria and Iraq and even extend beyond that. The jihadists trained by him had been taught to prepare for the final battle against the ‘forces of evil’ that would usher in the new and just world order, just in the way he thought it to be. But he died with his dream in a dead-end tunnel and also took with him two innocent children who knew nothing of his war.

His death marks the end of an era of unmitigated terror but the IS continues to exist though with much-reduced power and influence. If reports in a section of European media are to be believed the organisation is still carrying out low-level operations in Syria and Iraq and extorting money from civilians to keep itself afloat. The most important factor that may help it survive and perhaps also re-emerge as a potent threat to the rest of the world is the rampant corruption in the countries of its origin that seems to have made the incumbent governments extremely unpopular.

The big question is who will succeed Baghdadi who had a vice-like grip on his organisation? It may take time for someone of his stature and charisma to emerge. But what is obvious is that the IS instead of fading away is keen to re-build by recruiting new ‘jihadis’ and planning new strikes.

For this, it would need to make full use of resources at the command of its franchises in countries like Turkey, Nigeria and Afghanistan. In fact, authorities in Turkey are still bracing themselves for retaliatory strikes from the IS as the raid that killed Baghdadi took place just a few kilometres from the Turkish border in a part of Syria that is heavily influenced by Turkey.

So the fear of the IS revival continues to haunt not only Syria and Iraq but also many other countries where the organisation either had its franchises or which suffered because of it in terms of loss of human lives. From that point of view celebrations in the US following Baghdadi’s tunnel killing were rather premature. They killed him but his lethal legacy lives on. If and when the IS succeeds in resurrecting itself and there emerges a successor to the humble cleric who turned into the world’s most dreaded terrorist the world would find itself confronting a threat that would be extremely difficult to deal with.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same)

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