The Washington Post reported on Saturday that a man identified as the leader of ISIS, which claims to have created the first Islamic caliphate in centuries, appeared in public at a mosque in Mosul for the first time recently. He demanded that all Muslims throughout the world obey him and use the holy month of Ramadan to step up jihad against the infidel. The ISIS leader, previously known by his nom de guerre as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has styled himself as Caliph Ibrahim.
His actual name appears to be Ibrahim al-Samarrai, a known international terrorist who fought with Al Qaeda during the Iraqi insurgency. In 2011 he was identified as the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq. The United States has offered a $10 million bounty for information on his whereabouts.
Ever since ISIS, which stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, overran large swaths of Iraqi territory including the city of Mosul, president Obama has come under criticism from various quarters for his Middle Eastern policy. Historian and pundit Victor Davis Hanson has even gone so far to suggest that President Obama as “lost” the Middle East. The president may have a strategy for getting it back, however.
The United States is already sending armed drones in the skies over Iraq, with the stated purpose of providing air cover for American advisors. But the presence of drones in Iraq provides Obama with another option that has been tried and true against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries. He can launch drone strikes against ISIS leaders such as Caliph Ibrahim.
ISIS has behaved with remarkable brutality in the territory it has captured. It has conducted massacres of prisoners and has imposed a particularly harsh version of Sharia law. By presiding over this development, the man styling himself as Caliph Ibrahim has likely placed himself at the top of any kill list President Obama is compiling. The president got a lot of mileage over the execution of Osama bin Laden. He might be tempted to do the same with Caliph Ibrahim, aka Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, aka Ibrahim al-Samarrai.