European leaders are warning that the fight against terrorism is far from being over following the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The world's most wanted terrorist and leader of the so-called Islamic State group killed himself during a US military operation in the Idlib province, near the Syrian border with Turkey.
Al-Baghdadi declared the creation of a 'caliphate' in some areas of Iraq and Syria in 2014. He is believed to have masterminded terrorist attacks which claimed thousands of lives across the world.
Dr H.A. Hellyer is an expert in politics of the modern Arab world and he thinks a fragmentation of the militant group is inevitable now:
“A breaking down, or fragmenting of the organisation was already under way. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has served as a symbolic figure more than anything else, operationally I don’t think he was all that significant.” He goes on to say: “They don’t have a territorial state, they don’t have a leader that has managed to survive the tracking down by his enemies, so I think that will be a bit of a blow (for IS).”
Hellyer adds: “You see these more extremes elements, if you can get more extreme than ISIS already is, within the group battling it out with people which are ‘less extreme’… Local groups, if not officially break away, they are going to become far more autonomous and some of the members might even drift off to other groups, including Al Qaeda.”
NBC News’s Foreign Correspondent Matt Bradley reports from Beirut:
“This caliphate was destroyed back in March and now their charismatic leader is also dead.” Bradley says President Emmanuel Macron of France has said: “This is just a stage in the fight against the Islamic State.”
Watch the report in the player above.