Al-Bagdadi’s killing by US special forces in the Syrian compound of Barisha is feeding a great debate about its effective realization, with concerns about the future of Isis and global jihadism.
Al-Bagdadi’s death has been declared by many, even too many times, to be actually fully credible. Scepticism is therefore a personal feeling and, for this reason, a bad ally when it comes to making a good analysis.
It is necessary, in fact, to acknowledge that these are top secret situations, known only to the exclusive war cabinet and, for this reason, impossible to fact check.
It is only possible to take note of the news and to try to highlight the possible consequences.
The most important result is the way al-Bagdadi’s killing was carried out and subsequently presented by official announcements only has a value and exclusivety as a "narration", or "communication object". This applies to Trump’s people, who as a President is now struggling with upcoming elections, the risk of impeachment, leadership crisis in the Middle East etc., as well as for al-Bagdadi’s people, who are effectively without a leader but with the dream of Caliphate that has survived the military defeat in Syria and Iraq, and is now expanding beyond those borders.
For the jihadists, the violent death of a chief is equal to his martyrdom, and it is the reason for the US’s insistence that al-Bagdadi’s last moments of life were as a "whining coward". The aim is to discredit him and annihilate his legend.
However, this narrative cannot stop the “Caliphate” by itself, in the same way that Bin Laden’s death definitively did not stop al-Qaeda.
The experience of the Islamic State, as we have seen in Syria and Iraq, surely can never be repeated again with those human, geographical and warfare characteristics. However, it can recur elsewhere, with other leaders, flags and ways of fighting. It will appear very probably where serious problems and domestic instability still remain. Al-Qaeda is an exhaustive example again.
Maybe, and hopefully, spectacular attacks will no longer occur in Western countries, but the legacy of the Islamic State and al-Bagdadi will remain in the form of a debate on the Muslim faith at risk of radicalization, which will give the rise to the criminalization of this religious practice. This fact could yet again recreate the perfect conditions for the perpetuation of the jihadist threat on Western countries.
If we want to make the Barisha compound’s operation fully effective and the killing of al-Bagdadi not such as an illusion, we know which path to take.