The Death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi


Amelia Pollicino

Illustration depicting Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

The Middle East is in turmoil and has been for many years. The crisis in the Middle East is not a new one, but the recent death of the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, could turn the tides. There are raging conflicts in the Middle East among many different groups at the same time. The Jews are fighting the Arabs while the Shiite Muslims are fighting the Sunni Muslims. Kurds from Syria are allied with America and fighting the Islamic State. These conflicts are all violent, and hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in post 9/11 attacks and wars. Al-Qaeda and its forces have killed over 1,400 people from all over the world. This radical group was led by al-Baghdadi for over ten years.

Al-Baghdadi was violent from a young age. An article entitled “Who Was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi?” from the British Broadcasting Company’s website ( explains al-Baghdadi’s complicated life. Al-Baghdadi was born in 1971 in Samarra, a city in central Iraq. He was born into a religious Sunni Muslim family. His family claimed to be descendants of the Prophet Muhammad’s Quraysh tribe. This belief is thought to be a main reason why one is qualified to be a caliph (leader). Al-Baghdadi was a very religious child and spent many hours a day praying and learning the Koran. He went to university and received a PhD at the Islamic University of Baghdad. Following his studies, it was discovered that he was assisting an Islamic insurgent group that attacked the United States’ troops and their allies. Al-Baghdadi was detained and taken to a detention camp. There, he was truly radicalized and made connections that would help him ultimately become the leader of al-Qaeda. When he left the camp, he joined al-Qaeda, and ever since 2006, he has been instrumental in bringing terror to the world. Al-Baghdadi became the leader of al-Qaeda in 2010, and he has been causing violence ever since.  Al-Qaeda evolved into ISI and then ISIS, throughout which al-Baghdadi was involved. He took over land, killed thousands, and terrorized millions. ISIS control has decreased since 2014, but they continue to be as violent as before. In 2019, al-Baghdadi appeared on video for the first time in almost five years. He talked about the losses his group had over the past few years. He continued to wield terror until his death on Oct. 23, 2019.

The United States has been trying to locate and kill al-Baghdadi since 2014, when he seized a huge territory in parts of Syria and Iraq. He took over lands and aggressively enlarged the Islamic caliphate throughout his years of being its leader. An article entitled “ISIS Leader al-Baghdadi Is Dead, Trump Says” from the New York Times’ website ( explains how President Donald Trump has been “Personally hunting Mr. al-Baghdadi since the early days of his administration.” The raid in Syria that killed al-Baghdadi happened just after the United States withdrew their troops from the region. The country may not have troops there now, but they still have power and a presence. The New York Times describes the graphic death of al-Baghdadi. American forces came in by helicopters that were, with permission, controlled by Russia. The eight helicopters landed on the target and proceeded to blow a hole through the wall to avoid a booby-trap. President Trump made a National address and stated that al-Baghdadi was chased to the end of a tunnel followed by military dogs and claimed he was “whimpering and crying and screaming all the way” ( Al-Baghdadi was with three children at the time and was wearing a suicide vest. He blew himself up, and his body was mutilated. The United States ran DNA tests and confirmed that it was he who died. The children were also reported dead. In the attack, no Americans were killed or injured. President Trump was eager to release the news about al-Baghdadi’s death and posted a tweet foreshadowing it before the news was confirmed. The raid and killing ensure that United States remains a power in the Middle East.

The conflict in the Middle East affects the United States and its military, but it is one that many Americans do not know a lot about. Sophomores Brianna Estrada and Danielle Vito both felt unaffected by the death of al-Baghdadi, but both commented that it was a positive thing for the United States. Social Studies Teacher David Rabinowitz shared his thoughts on al-Baghdadi’s death: “I am more at peace now that [al-Baghdadi] is gone. He is a sworn enemy of the U.S., and he has inspired, led, and committed atrocities against innocent American citizens. He is a hypocrite and coward, and he got what he deserved.” Concerning how the United States’ media handled his death, Rabinowitz believes it was “For the most part fair. [The media] appeared to be mostly unbiased from my point of view.” The death of al-Baghdadi was one that has a large impact on the lives of people all over the world.

This is not the first time a terrorist leader has been killed by the United States; however, it is known that the death of the leader does not decimate the terrorist group. Either way, al-Baghdadi was a threat to people everywhere, and the United States military and people all around the country feel that his death was a victory for the United States and its military. Former Vice President Joe Biden praised the military and their efforts to kill the powerful leader. President Trump is happy with the intelligence of the nation. The death of al-Baghdadi shows that the United States and their military has a presence everywhere.