US Defense Report: ISIS Retains Capabilities in Syria
According to the Pentagon, Islamic State has retained its terrorist capabilities in Syria despite the US Special Forces strike that killed its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and is liable to continue perpetrating attacks worldwide. A report by the Defense Department’s inspector-general said ISIS “remained cohesive, with an intact command and control structure, urban clandestine networks, and an insurgent presence in much of rural Syria.” Baghdadi blew himself up during the late-October US raid in northwestern Syria and reportedly has been replaced by Amir Mohammed Abdul Rahman al-Mawli al-Salbi. A founder of the terrorist group, Salbi is perhaps best known for issuing religious decrees justifying the targeting of minorities, including the mass slaughter of thousands of Yazidis in Iraq beginning in 2014. At the time, ISIS was rampaging across the Middle East, conquering major Iraqi and Syrian cities nearly equivalent in overall territory to the United Kingdom. However, this self-styled caliphate was subsequently beaten back by a US-led coalition of some 70 nations, which continues to carry out counter-terrorism missions in the region. The DOD report comes after ISIS this week claimed responsibility for a stabbing in London, as well as an alleged attack on a pipeline that transports gas from Egypt to Israel via the Sinai Peninsula. In this respect, a spokesman for Salbi recently called on “his mujahideen brothers in all provinces and Muslims across the world” to launch a “new phase” of operations that would focus primarily on attacks against the Jewish state.