Syed Badrul Ahsan
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has had his comeuppance. It is too bad that he could not be captured alive, for that would have given the world he so much wanted to destroy a chance to understand the nature of the evil he had been sowing for the last three years. Even so, the fact that his crimes finally caught up with him in a remote hamlet on Sunday is a matter of relief for nations around the world, indeed for the families of the victims his men subjected to death in medieval manner. It will not be easy to forget the hostages he and his murderous squads took and executed for no rhyme or reason in the deserts across the territory they once occupied in the name of a so-called Islamic caliphate.
There were too the thousands of young Muslim men and women he lured to the desert with promise of an ideal life in the ‘caliphate’ and in the hereafter. Many of these young people made their way to his territory from Western nations, only to find themselves enslaved in his irrational scheme. The Islam he promised was a deviation from the faith, in the same way that al-Qaeda and the Taliban offered an Islam that was far removed from the enlightenment it had been throughout the course of history. Baghdadi did not stay away from perversion either. His men murdered thousands of Yazidi men and boys and then took their women hostage, forcing them to become their sex slaves. It was dark medievalism which the man propagated, a war against all civilized values we in our times have come to live by. And Baghdadi’s venture was not bound to last. The end was to come sooner or later.
Now that he is dead, through a well-planned operation by American forces, the world will feel relieved. And yet it will not do to think that the cancerous growth that has been the Islamic State has finally been removed. With reports of a large number of ISIS prisoners making their way out of imprisonment following the Turkish invasion of northern Syria in recent weeks, it will be the naïve man who thinks that the ‘caliphate’ is fully dead. The death of Osama bin Laden in 2011 did not fully signify the death of his brand of terrorism. In similar fashion, there are all those followers of Baghdadi who, unless they are rounded up or eliminated soon, could become the potential for continued trouble. It is of vital importance that ISIS fighters, those who have not died but have scattered in the face of the attacks on their bases in recent months, be hunted down for the crimes they have committed against humanity. They should be given no opportunity of arguing that they were misguided by Baghdadi and his fanatical ideas. These men and women willingly joined ISIS, dreaming of transforming through sheer terror the world into a planet where culture and civilized life would not be.
These followers of Baghdadi deserve no pity. With Baghdadi dying the death he richly deserved, it is important that all vestiges of the Islamic State he built on blood and gore be wiped out.
(Syed Badrul Ahsan is a political commentator and biographer of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Tajuddin Ahmad. Contributing Columnist, Shottobani)