Islamic State leader leaves a legacy of terror


This is All Things Considered from NPR news I'm Michelle Martin we're gonna begin this hour with that major announcement today from president trump in the morning press conference at the White House the president announced that the leader of ISIS Abu Bakr al Baghdadi had been eliminated that was trumps work only Daddy was one of the world's most wanted figures he was killed and his Syrian safe house by US commander rate we can have several conversations about this about who al Baghdadi was and what this means for the region we're going to start with NPR's Daniel Estrin in Beirut and national security correspondent Greg my re here in our studios in Washington DC and Greg I'm going to start with you let's first start with the details the timeline of the operation president trump gave a vivid cinematic description of what happened here he said eight American helicopters went into this small village they land they don't go into the front of this compound they blast through the walls the interest they track down al Baghdadi and the president says that how Baghdadi has a suicide vest and three kids with them he detonates this killing himself killing the kids no American casualties except for a military dog I think the number of people have been struck by the level of detail that the the president you know offer here including descriptions of what he claims were up and down his last moments did that strike you as a person is cover these issues for sometime was it unusual for that kind of announcement beyond unusual actually quite remarkable I mean this would all fall into the category of classified top secret information for him to just come out and riff and take questions on this providing this this granular level of detail was quite striking and then his defense secretary came on it was mark espera was much more tight lipped about the whole operation today I let me turn to you what's been the reaction in the region I mean you're in Lebanon at the moment and but if you've been following this throughout the region including in Syria what's been the reaction there we've been hearing a whole mix every action from inside Syria we spoke with the researcher in the city of Rucka he's been researching ISIS crimes in the city when isis was there and he says this is a moment of celebration you know trump gave a list of the victims of ISIS you mentioned American journalists humanitarian aid workers killed Christians killed disease killed but actually most of isis is victims were Muslims and just in Syria alone approximately six thousand civilians were killed by ISIS so Syrians civilians I feel very strongly about this man but there is a lot of skepticism this researcher the Syrian man we spoke with thought the US had its own interests in killing Baghdadi he said the US wants to grab Syrian oil which we heard trump's speak about we're also hearing from many Syrians who are skeptical that apple buckle but Daddy actually died they've heard several times before in the past that he had died turned out to be fake news they say we haven't seen the pictures how do we know for sure and we also reached a few Syrians in in live but the city where I'll Doug Daddy was reportedly given safe haven and was targeted living there seems very careful with their words or didn't want to speak at all and they could be scared of retribution from ISIS so Daniel the president thanked many countries in his announcement starting with Russia and Turkey then including Syria and Iraq the Syrian Kurds as well but in that order and that was striking to a number of people what about that I mean does that show that the Kurds are still important players in fighting the extremist threat despite president trump's decision to back away from well it's a very interesting to hear how the the STF the Kurdish led forces in Syria have been speaking about what happened today first of all their top commander said that they had been tracking Abu Bakr al Baghdadi is movements and location for the last five months that they were part of the intelligence cooperation in planning for the US to nab about Daddy but that that operation was delayed by a month because of the recent Turkish offensive after we heard that about Daddy was killed they praise the operation they said it was a joint Curtis U. S. operation just days ago though we heard from the top commander they were very upset with Donald Trump for withdrawing US troops and leaving them exposed to a Turkish offensive what Greg this comes at a time when a standard just point out the president's pulling US troops out of Syria putting a stop to what he has called endless wars it is there a contradiction in US policy then between wanting to destroy ISIS and other terror groups overseas but still wanting to bring US forces home I mean is there a contradiction US policy a fundamental contradiction that's existed throughout the the president's time in office we're going to hit all of these groups whether it's ISIS of the Taliban or al Qaeda but it's time to bring Americans home and the president seem not bothered by this contradiction today he said we we carried out a very successful operation in Syria and yes we're still bringing the troops home he seem to see it as as so you see we can do both while critics are already saying no you can't this was an operation that required a special operators in the US working with Kurds and you want to leave an area of the intelligence goes cold very quickly so you you can't really have it both ways you can stay and fight or you can leave but hard to do both before we let each of you go I do want to hear from each of you on this what is the strategic significance of the death of opportunity right the death of al Baghdadi does not end ISIS we've learned that time and again when the leaders of terrorists groups are killed however you should also look at the number of things that have happened in the past couple of years ISIS has lost its territory it's lost its revenue streams it no longer has recruits flowing in and now they've lost a very important leader this group is not dead they still have lots of fighters out there but they are in no way organized the way that they were so they've been greatly weakened but they still exist Daniel what about you it's true that ISIS isn't dead it exists in many different permutations and groups across the region and finally the city it live is a place where we're hearing many ISIS operatives fled to that area after the fall of the ISIS territorial caliphate and the question is will they be able to regroup there that was and personally scar Spahn Daniel Estrin in Beirut and national security correspondent quick Myrick here in our studios in Washington DC thank you both so much for talking to us my pleasure thanks we're going to turn now to someone whose life was directly affected by Abu Bakr al Baghdadi and the rise of ISIS James Foley was an American journalist covering the civil war in Syria in two thousand twelve he was captured in northern Syria by ISIS and held captive for nearly two years then in two thousand fourteen he was killed in a gruesome manner beheaded in what would become something of a signature of the Islamic state he was the first American to be killed by ISIS in his honor and name his mother I am fully created the James W. fully legacy foundation which advocates for the safe return of American hostages abroad and protection of journalists and she's with us now from her home via Skype thankfully thank you so much for speaking with us today my pleasure we shop how are you reacting to today's events well we're very grateful my shall we have to be I am very grateful to president trump our intelligence community and the military for fall waiting and finding al Baghdadi and stopping him our he obviously wanted to continue to regroup and continue his reign of terror so it is a blow to isis and I'm very grateful we had there US troops in country to make that happen ask you though today what does this does this bring up anything for you I mean I know what you know the word closure is so controversial people think it's some people think it's ridiculous some people think it it actually kind of capture something or says something does the death of this person who who because your son's death does this bring anything for you does it and anything for you does that term what what is it bring up for you well it protects others from whatever he was planning to do start money the thing that would bring me the most solace is does ISIS fighters who have been captured I would like them to be brought to trial and the federal criminal court here in the U. apps I'm grateful that two alleged Jack hottest Cody and I'll shake our impact in US custody and I'm hoping they'll be brought to trial but there are thousands of others and I feel it's very important that the international community hold them responsible by bringing them to trial and if convicted put away for the rest of their lives how do you hope the elder Jerry might be captured alive so that he could face trial yes he would have been able to answer so many questions but it appears he detonated himself he didn't want that to happen so he wanted to be a martyr for his because I'm sure so obviously that would have been the past the more we can take into custody and bring to trial the better however as you can see from there and present is that it's hard to find the will to bring them to trial and there's a lot of blocks in that regard but I feel that is necessary to actually stop terrorism is to bring these folks who inflicted such terror to try and hold them accountable for their horrific Dietz we let you go how does this how does the work of the fully foundation proceed does the does al Baghdadi is death affect the work of the foundation in anyway well anytime we can capture people who are from loading hostage taking which he surely wise that is a win he wives using human victims to inflict yes terror on the country and the citizens in that area so yes of course that's a help I would just or that our administration might give a higher priority to innocent Americans when they first taken hostage to maybe hopefully prevent some of that horrific crime so but I I certainly applaud today's victory and it is a victory for the free world was stand for Lee she's the president and founder of the James to be fully legacy foundation she's the mother of the slain US journalist James Foley who was killed by ISIS in two thousand fourteen she was with us today via Skype painfully thank you so much for talking with us thank you so much for

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