The Russian government usually isn’t to be trusted to tell the truth about anything.
The country’s foreign ministry, though, has put out a tantalizing morsel: Russian air strikes might this past month have killed the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Before we get all a-flutter over this possibility, it’s good to ponder some elements that ought to keep us grounded.
Al-Baghdadi’s death would not mean the end of ISIS. It opens the door for another madman to step forward to take his place.
You might recall that when U.S. special forces killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in May 2011, there was dancing in front of the White House and chants of “USA! USA! USA!” Sure, we got the 9/11 mastermind, but the fight against al-Qaeda goes on.
There also have been earlier claims of al-Baghdadi’s death. The Russians have been hitting ISIS targets in Syria with air strikes and ground-based artillery. Are the Russians to be believed now? Do we hold out hope that they actually got this monstrous madman? Furthermore, are the Russians to be believed?
I guess I could remind all of us that terrorism doesn’t exist within the ranks of international organizations. “Lone wolf” terrorists lurk among us. They skulk out from under rocks. Latest example? The guy who shot the Republican lawmakers practicing for a charity baseball game, wounding several people, including the House GOP whip, Steve Scalise.
I am going to hope the Russian claim that they might have killed al-Baghdadi. I am going to retain the realism of the fight in which we are engaged against terror. The fight likely never will end.