Baghdadi video proves he is alive, not that ISIS is thriving

April 29, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC—On Monday, the Islamic State released a video message claiming to come from its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Defense Priorities Policy Director Benjamin H. Friedman issued the following statement in response:

“Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s new propaganda video is evidence that he is alive. It is not evidence that ISIS is thriving or that U.S. troops should stay in Syria or Iraq to fight its remnant.

“No true military mission is left for U.S. troops in Syria. Baghdadi does not operationally control the so-called affiliates around the world. And ISIS’ losses make others less likely to affiliate in name or to try to travel to Syria or Iraq to fight. The U.S.-led war on ISIS undercut the allure it needs to recruit, inspire, and terrorize. That is a real victory worth celebrating.

“The U.S. does not to be at the front of the already-long anti-ISIS line. Baghdadi and ISIS are hidden and hunted by an array of actors: the Kurds who did the hard fighting against them already, the Syrian government, Russians, Iran-backed militias, Iraq, and tribes who were abused by ISIS in its prime.

“To keep America safe, vigilance is required, but endless war is not. U.S. security is best served by a full military withdrawal from Syria. The U.S. military can monitor anti-American terrorist threats with intelligence and attack them with airstrikes and even raids, if necessary.”