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Baghdadi is Dead – What Does the Future Hold for ISIS?

Yazidi mass grave in Mosul, Iraq

JERUSALEM, Israel - When President Donald Trump announced US Special Forces killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, it marked the end of one of the biggest manhunts in history

Trump said the operation led by Delta Force was flawless.

"US special operations forces executed a dangerous and daring night-time raid in north-western Syria and accomplished their mission in grand style," Trump said, adding that Baghdadi "died like a dog."

"The thug who tried so hard to intimidate others spent his last moments in utter fear, in total panic and dread, terrified of the American forces bearing down on him," Trump said.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the main allies of the US since 2015 in the battle against ISIS, said they provided "effective" intelligence in tracking down Baghdadi while one official said Turkey did not help in any way.

In July 2014, Baghdad announced an Islamic caliphate and declared himself the "Caliph", the leader of the Muslim world. His caliphate swept across Syria and Iraq, changed the face of the Middle East and left behind a legacy of some of the most horrific murders ever seen, many of them broadcast to the world via social media.

At one time his caliphate reached the size of Great Britain and kept millions under its heel of barbaric Sharia Law. His infamous legacy scarred the lives of millions who either fled, were killed or who came under the sway of his hate-filled messages.

"Unfortunately, there's a whole area across Iraq and Syria that has kind of its heart ripped out and I don't think the middle east will fully be able to get that back," After ISIS author Seth Frantzman told CBN News. 

Baghdadi's followers – many of them drawn from western countries - especially targeted Christians and slaughtered religious minorities like Yazidis and Muslims who didn't follow his brand of Islam. His followers murdered 20 Egyptian Christians on a Libyan beach, western journalists like James Foley and thousands more.

CBN News documented some of his trail of destruction from the devastated city of Mosul to Yazidi mass graves and the ruins of their main city Sinjar and met some of the millions who became refugees. Many still remain in those camps.   

While his physical caliphate ended earlier this year in the eastern corner of Syria, the question remains what's next for the Islamist terrorist group.

"There will be another form of ISIS that will come along because I think there's a kind of unresolved question in terms of Sunni extremist jihadist movements throughout the world whether it's from Nigeria all the way to the Philippines. There is, unfortunately, this extremism which appeals to people," said Frantzman.

The question also remains about what should be done with Baghdadi's victims.

"Baghdadi's dead but we should be helping the victims, the refugees, the people who still have post-traumatic stress from what they suffered over these years, the rape victims. I mean all those people are still among us. So, we should devote our tools to helping the living and not just care about the dead," Frantzman explained.

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