On Security

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's True Legacy

Scott Stewart
VP of Tactical Analysis, Stratfor
Oct 29, 2019 | 09:00 GMT
This July 5, 2014, photo shows an image grab taken from a propaganda video released by al-Furqan Media showing Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as he declares himself caliph in Mosul.

This July 5, 2014, photo shows an image grab taken from a propaganda video released by al-Furqan Media showing Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as he declares himself caliph in Mosul. Now that he is dead, al-Baghdadi has left behind a legacy of supreme violence and other barbarity.

(AFP/Getty Images)

When al-Baghdadi declared himself caliph following his Islamic State group's stunning battlefield successes in Syria and Iraq, he envisioned a legacy in which all Muslims would fall in line and help him establish sovereignty over all the Earth. Al-Baghdadi saw himself as the one to "Make Islam great again" (to borrow a phrase) and expected to achieve the same success that the Prophet Mohammed's followers enjoyed when they greatly expanded the original caliphate in the late seventh century A.D. But as we now look back at the life -- and death -- of al-Baghdadi, it becomes clear that he was a failure. Not only did he fail to unify all Muslims and lead them on a global conquest, his only lasting legacies might be his group's deep split with others in the jihadist movement, depraved violence (against believer and nonbeliever alike), and rape on an epic scale....

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