Wednesday, July 13, 2016

ISIS confirms that one of their major commanders was killed in March.

Militant photo of Omar al-Shishani. 

ISIS minster of war, Omar al-Shishani, was killed last March. AFP. The Pentagon claimed that Shishani was killed in an airstrike last March in Syria, but ISIS did not offer up confirmation until now. However, ISIS's new agency, Amaq, said that he died in Sharqat, Iraq in a battle defending the city of Mosul. Shishani was one of ISIS's most famous and notorious fighters. He fought in Chechnya and was known as Omar the Chechen. Washington put a $5 million bounty on his head. His exact title was unknown but he was the equivalent to a minster of war. 

My Comment:
I didn't want to post about this until it was confirmed. Many times ISIS fighters have been reported killed by the Pentagon only show up alive weeks or months later. Why? Mostly because these attacks are carried out by airstrikes and not commando raids. Without direct access to a body it is hard to confirm if someone is dead or not. There are ways to do so through intelligence means, such as listening to terrorist chatter, but the best way to confirm is when ISIS announces it. To announce that a major leader has been killed while not waiting for ISIS to confirm it is a good way to look stupid and that's something I would like to avoid. 

ISIS's announcement is strange. Though I can understand why they would lie if Shishani was killed in an airstrike, I don't know why they would move the location of his death from Syria to Iraq. Though there is certainly an appeal to making it sound like Shishani died on the front lines in battle, but you can't tell me that there weren't battles in Syria they could have lied about? Why not have him die in Dier Ez Zoir or against the Kurds? Doesn't make much sense to me.

Perhaps ISIS is telling the truth then. Maybe he really did die in Sharqat and not Syria. If so, who was it that the Pentagon killed in Syria? Some other commander? Random ISIS fighters? Some poor unlucky guy? We may never know. 

In the end it doesn't really matter either way. The location of Omar al-Shishani's death isn't important. What is important is that he is dead. Obviously, as a major figure in ISIS he deserved to be brought to justice. Killing him, no matter where it happened, was a good thing and the world is a better place without him in it. 

Losing Shishani was a major blow to ISIS. He was an experienced fighter with a long history of fighting in Chechnya and Georgia. His skills will not be easy to replace, if they can be replaced at all. He was also a major propaganda figure for ISIS. Even if he did die in battle instead of an airstrike, he is still dead and won't be able to recruit anyone else.

The strategy of killing the leadership of ISIS seems to be having an effect. ISIS's combat effectiveness has decreased in the past few months. A good example of this would be the battle of Fallujah. ISIS wasn't able to hold onto the city and it was taken a lot quicker then it should have been. And when ISIS was trying to retreat, the fighters left in the area did not have an orderly and safe retreat. Instead they all fled at the same time and were destroyed when the US military bombed the living hell out of them. That turned the retreat from Fallujah into a total rout where they lost 250 fighters and dozens of vehicles. 

ISIS will have a very hard time replacing their leaders. Losing weapons, vehicles and recruits is damaging but relatively inconsequential. They can always capture more supplies and get more stupid kids to join their Caliphate. But there is only so many military leaders they can get their hands on. They need veterans and militarily trained people to run their war and I can't imagine that the recruitment pool hasn't been exhausted. 

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