Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Top ISIS terrorist planner and spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani is killed in US airstrike.

ISIS leader Abu Muhammad al-Adnani. Reuters/US government handout. 

Top ISIS terrorist planner and spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani has been killed in a probable US airstrike. Reuters. The US said that they targeted al-Adnani while he was traveling in a vehicle in the Syrian town of al-Bab. ISIS's news agency Amaq confirmed the death. Adnani was not only a major spokesman for ISIS and one of the most famous members of ISIS. He was also in charge of directing overseas terrorist attacks, including the ones in France, Belgium and Turkey. Adnani was apparently in Aleppo province to supervise and boost morale of the troops fighting in the area, which has come under pressure from multiple different forces. Adnani is one of several high ranking ISIS leaders killed in US airstrikes, including their minister of defense and the caliph's top deputy. 

My Comment:
This is a huge blow to ISIS. al-Adnani was a huge asset for ISIS and one of it's founding members. Losing him will hurt their operations. Al-Adnani was the public face of ISIS and one of the terror groups most well known members. Though he wasn't the leader of ISIS he was one of their most prominent members. Losing him is the equivalent of us losing a Vice President or a Secretary of defense. 

Adnani was a propaganda figure as well. He was responsible for many of the propaganda videos released by the terror group. Given what those terror videos have shown, that alone meant that he was deserving of death. His death means that there is going to less of those videos, which is undoubtedly a good thing. 

More importantly though, Adnani was in charge of terrorist attacks overseas. That role merged with his propaganda role because he was calling for lone wolf attacks across the world. Things like the Pulse nightclub shooting and the various knife attacks in Europe are at least partially his responsibility. 

He was also greatly involved in plotting attacks such as the Paris attacks, the Brussels bombing and the various attacks in Turkey. Killing him not only brings him to justice for these attacks but also may help prevent more attacks in the future. 

Still, how important is the death of Abu Muhammad al-Adnani? In the long run, it probably hurts ISIS quite a bit.  I think that for now ISIS has plenty of other people that can rise up to take his place. But ISIS can't keep losing their leaders like this. Losing one guy is survivable, but they have lost many of their highest leaders recently and even al-Baghdadi himself dodges death on a regular basis. Leadership is important and if ISIS keeps taking these kinds of casualties they are going to run out of people to replace their losses. 

This is doubly true due to the situation on the ground in Syria and Iraq. The battle of Mosul looks like it will actually happen and if and when ISIS loses the city, they lose most of their holdings in Iraq. In Syria, Turkey's intervention has largely cut off their last supply line to the outside world. Turkey was the main route for new recruits coming in and terrorist flowing out. The fact that their route for new recruits is cut off means that their leadership problem is even worse then it would be otherwise. 

The fact that al-Adani was in al-Bab is telling as well. Al-Bab is close to the front lines and a somewhat dangerous place for a leader to be. It's also close to Dabiq, the most important site in Islamic prophecy. The city is being threatened by most of ISIS's enemies, who all have troops in the area. The Kurds, rebels, regime and even Turkey are in the general area. Losing Dabiq in anything other then an apocalyptic battle will do huge damage to ISIS's credibility. 

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