The once-fearsome Islamic State of Iraq and Syria army now staggers through its last days. U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters declared Tuesday that they had recaptured Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of the fast-crumbling caliphate. That is a swift and remarkable achievement for an improbable coalition of global friends, enemies and frenemies who looked past other conflicts to focus on crushing the barbarous Islamic State.
Does this portend an interlude of relative calm in the Mideast? Sadly, not likely.
ISIS, the army, is in shambles. But the Islamic State, the jihadist rallying cry, will likely continue to inspire terror attacks. That calls for a stronger global strategy to quash the group’s online recruitment and radicalizing of young people.
In 2011, we cautiously celebrated the demise if not death of Al-Qaida. Navy SEALs had dispatched mastermind Osama bin Laden, and a U.S. drone attack killed his operations chief. The terror group never recovered. Today, as the Islamic State reels, the U.S. and its allies face a more fragmented threat, a cast of terrorist converts still pledging allegiance to the caliphate that isn’t, still plotting one-off attacks with cars or knives on civilians.
Then, as now, killing terrorist leaders wherever they plot is vital. But eradicating the nihilistic, blood-drenched creed that helps terrorists recruit followers is an equally critical mission that, unlike the combat that is evicting ISIS, never ends.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE