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Monday, October 28, 2019

Death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi - End of Daish?

Yesterday, apparently US Special Forces had launched an attack on a Daish-controlled facility deep inside Syria and had managed to eliminate the reclusive Daish leader.  The unnamed US Special Forces unit was said to have successfully eliminated the enigmatic leader of Daish after years of hunting the man.  Born Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim al-Badri al-Samarrai, he came to prominence after Daish successfully wrestled Mosul from Iraqi Government back in July 2014.

Mugshot of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi when he was only known as Ibrahim Awad, taken when he was arrested by US Army and incarcerated at Abu Ghraib prison.

So what does this entail?  The end of Daish, which is also known by their other acronyms (ISIS, IS, ISIL)?  Or does this mean countries worldwide need to be more vigilant?

Time to be More Vigilant
The death of Osama bin Laden in May 2011 did not end al-Qaida.  Nor that his death weakened the group as a whole.  Likewise, the death of Anwar al-awlaki in September the same year.  Today, we still have groups loyal to al-Qaida operating not only in Mid-East but also in ASEAN.

Osama bin Laden.  Former Mujahiddin fighter, he was trained by CIA to fight against Russian occupation in Afghanistan.

Another example would be the death of V Prabhakaran of LTTE.  Despite Prabhakaran being killed in battle as he was trying to escape Sri Lankan military cordon, LTTE continued to live on.

V Prabhakaran in LTTE uniform.  His militant group was the first group that came with the innovation of using bomb vest to commit suicide bombing.

Lessons Learnt from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
Perhaps a better example would be that of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.  Born Ahmad Fadeel al-Nazal al-Khalayleh in Jordan, he was radicalised in a Jordanian prison where he spent time for petty theft.  After leaving prison, he tried to join mujahiddin forces in Afghanistan to fight against the Russian occupiers but was too late to join the war effort.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi

From one fight to another, when rumours of planned US invasion of Iraq reached his ears, he decided to move to Iraq to prepare for a war against US.  It was here he had formed Jama'at al-Tawhid al wal-Jihad, which means Organisation of Monotheism and Jihad.  There, he wrecked huge havoc not only against the American occupier and coalition, but also to the local population.  It was he who started the trend to record the brutal beheading videos that were later used as propaganda video.

His brutality knew no bound.  In an area where his group had managed to control, his men was said to have captured some locals suspected of assisting the Iraqi government.  A mother, wanting to free her son, came to negotiate for his release.  Showing hospitality to the beleaguered mother, Zarqawi's men prepared food for her. After finishing the food prepared for her, she asked for her son.  The men pointed to the dish that she had just finished, cooked with the flesh of her son.

That was the kind of brutality that Abu Musab and his men had dished out to the local Iraqis.  And he continued his reign of terror even after admonishment from Osama bin Laden.  And that ultimately led to his undoing.

On 7 June 2006, he was killed in an air strike while he was in a safe house.  His location was leaked by his own people, probably disgusted at the brutality that he had inflicted on normal Iraqis.

By killing Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, they probably had thought that his militant movement will eventually be disbanded.  Unfortunately that was no the case.

Later on, when AQI or al-Qaida in Iraq began to gain strength in Iraq, CIA had came out with this brilliant idea of providing arms support to the weakened Jama'at Tawhid al wal-Jihad to incite them to go against al-Qaida.  Later on, when US decided to intervene in Syria, they had also secretly supplied weapons and ammunition to this group to go against the Syrian government.

CIA's involvement in the group only came apparent when Iraqi government troops were killed in several ambushes near Syrian borders.  Detonators made in the US were found to be used in these ambushes and the Iraqi complained to US government.  This had led to an inquiry in US Senate which was covered in news circa 2010 to 2011, a few months before the fall of Fallujah and Mosul to to Daish.

It was only then, that the group formed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, previously known as Jama'at al-Tawhid al wal-Jihad, had morphed into ISIL and by then led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Never-Ending Fight
What we are facing now is not just militancy.  But the ideology.  A normal militant group would normally cease to exist once key members of the group is being eliminated.  However, when the group becomes sufficiently dominant and gets to codify their belief into an ideology, then we are in trouble.

To eliminate such groups where ideology had been formed, their ideology must be attacked.  Killing the snake head would be futile as that only lead to a new head being created, or worse, more than one heads coming to being.

Hence, this was the reason why Saudi Government had approached Malaysia during the previous administration to find ways to fight against the ideology that had been created by these militant groups.

This was also the same lesson that Lt Gen Sir Gerald Templer had correctly identified in the war against Communism in Malaya.  It is the destruction of the ideology that is supposed to be sought, and that can't be gained fully with bullets and bombs.  It must be followed up with education, empowerment and economy.

But to fight this kind of war, we need live people, not dead bodies.  As dead bodies tell no information.

Datuk Ayub Khan recently had announced that 40 Malaysians are seeking to return to Malaysia.  The 40, consist mostly of women and children had left for Syria after they had fell for Daish propaganda.  Some may have even killed for Daish.  This had led to huge uproar and opposition for the 40 to return to Malaysia.

In our fight against communism, many communists had surrendered to government forces, specifically to our Special Branch.  These men and women upon the surrender were placed together with the families of many Special Branch officers, thus gaining their trust.  These men and women in turn not only provided tonnes of useful information to our Security Forces to fight against the Red Menace, and in some cases, even bore arm against their erstwhile comrades.  Sir Gerald Templer had even raised a unit known as Special Operations Volunteer Forces consist of surrendered communists numbering at least 2 battalions, each totaling 800 men (and women).  The unit fought as part of Police Field Force were said to be effective and became a pride to Sir Gerald Templer.

Perhaps, it would be a smarter move to have the 40 returned to Malaysia so that our Special Branch can find out more about Daish.

After all, if we can accommodate surrendered communist personnel in the past, why can't we do the same for Daish?

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