Barry Nussbaum: Barry Nussbaum: Hello, and welcome to ATP Report. I’m Barry Nussbaum. A few days ago, the Islamic State lost their leader and founder, caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He was killed by American special forces, in a strike deep into Syria carried out by our super-elite Delta Force commandos. President Trump released pictures from the situation room and later made a celebratory speech from the White House. Everybody around the world seems to be happy al-Baghdadi is dead, but that is not the controversy. Joining us today is the Vice President for Research at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., Clare Lopez. She’s a friend of ATP. We are thrilled to have her back today. Welcome, Clare.
Clare Lopez: Hi, Barry, thank you. Very glad to be back with you.
Barry Nussbaum: So, let’s start out with who was al-Baghdadi, and what does his death mean to the Islamic State? We need to know, is ISIS gone or something else maybe?
Clare Lopez: Well, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, that is not his real given birth name. But Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was an Iraqi, as his name suggests, al-Baghdadi would suggest that he comes from Baghdad. And indeed, that is where he studied and obtained his bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. in Islamic studies. He rose through the ranks of the jihadist forces there in Iraq in the 2000s, at the time when the United States and other coalition partners were battling the extremely violent civil war and jihad warfare against us all around Iraq. Well, what used to be called Iraq, I don’t think it really exists anymore. And he, as I said, rose up through the ranks of then al-Qaida. Al-Qaida in Iraq, as we’ll recall, was led in those years up until 2006 anyway, by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. As will recall, he had been in Afghanistan with Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida before and up until or through 9/11, the attacks of September 11th, 2001, at which point Abu Musab al-Zarqawi fled Afghanistan, apparently, a prearranged escape route that took him through Iran. Iran, which took care of him, he was injured, gave him medical care, and he wound up eventually in the northern part of Iraq, north of Diyala Province and the area of Sulaymaniyah in a place to the north of the capital of Baghdad. And it is during those years and even after Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was taken out by U.S. forces in 2006, there that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi likewise rose up through the ranks. He had been arrested as a matter of fact. He had been picked up and detained by U.S. forces in 2004, sent to the camp called Camp Bucca, B-U-C-C-A, which is where because American forces knew nothing about Islam, Jihad, or Sharia, they allowed all of these detainees to mix and mingle with one another. And that is where he gathered around him following. And that became the core eventually of al-Qaida in Iraq and then eventually across the border, porous as it may be with then Syria and on to the founding of ISIS Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham. So just briefly, his background and where he comes from.
Barry Nussbaum: We understand the history. What about the future? The leader is dead. Long live ISIS or something else?
Clare Lopez: Well, it’s not so much, I think, important that we pay attention to the names, of course, the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham, ISIS or the Arabic, sometimes it’ll be called Daesh, which is the acronym of the exact same thing. But in Arabic, al-Dawla al-Islamiya fil Iraq wa al-Sham is no more. Has not existed, in fact, since June 2014, when the forces under Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi split from al-Qaida central, if you will, in a power struggle, a struggle over who is going to get to call the shots and be in charge. They split and in June 2014 in that blitzkrieg advance across the desert of western and north-western Iraq the forces of now, the Islamic State conquered so much territory and then, of course, into the former Syria as well. But the important part about this name change is that it’s no longer just confined to Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham. Al-Sham means the Levant, basically. And to your question, basically Barry it’s that it is no longer just a jihad group of the Middle East, but whether al-Baghdadi was still the leader or not and a number of names have been suggested as his successors, the Islamic State has now spread all over the world from the western part of North Africa, Libya, all the way east as far as the Philippines and many places in between.
Barry Nussbaum: Let me press you on the answer. He’s gone, he was the founder, he was a religious scholar in charge. Is the movement dead, or does it continue?
Clare Lopez: It continues. And the reason is that the movement is not identifiable or identical to al-Qaida, Islamic State, or any other Islamic Jihad group. The movement, as they themselves call it, is the Islamic movement, and it is incumbent on every single Muslim in the world who is faithful to work in one way or another to establish a caliphate. Again, there has not been a caliphate of duration since the last one was abolished in the wake of World War One by the Turkish leader, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1924. So, the attempt to re-establish that goes on. It is incumbent. It’s obligatory. Every single Muslim must work towards that by law, by Islamic law. Now, whether they do or not, that’s a whole nother question, but somebody will. So, it’s not ISIS, it’s not the Islamic State that will go on. What will go on is the Islamic movement and its divine obligation as they see it to re-establish a caliphate.
Barry Nussbaum: Well, that’s. Great history, a perfect analysis, and really bad news because at least in American circles, the hope is and will continue to be the leader is dead, and so goes the movement he founded. The idea that it will continue under some as yet unnamed successor is somewhat discouraging, as I’m sure you can appreciate. We’re going to leave it there for now. Thank you for joining us on American Truth Project. And thanks to Clare Lopez. To our loyal viewers out there, you can take the word truth, type it into your cell phone. That’s your message. And send it to 88202. That will subscribe you to our mailing list. You’ll never miss a video like this or any of our daily information that we send out. And it’s always free. Thanks for joining us on ATP Report. I’m Barry Nussbaum.