Yes, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, there really is a Santa Claus! The erstwhile caliph must undoubtedly be gloating over the hasty, disorganized US retreat from Syria and the potential to free thousands of detained ISIS fighters from Kurdish prisons, as Kurdish soldiers are drawn from guarding prisoners to confront the invading Turks. ISIS has already carried out several bombings inside Kurdish territory even as the US had to send F-15E fighter bombers to destroy sensitive munitions abandoned at its former headquarters to prevent them from falling into Russian hands.
In fact, without actual eyes on the ground, we no longer have any idea of how many ISIS prisoners or their family members have already managed to escape. Those fighters in detention had not been rehabilitated. They still are loyal to the ISIS cause and would be ready, willing, and able to carry out a terrorist operation in the Middle East or a Western country if they had the opportunity to do so. It was recently estimated that about 2,000 of the 10,000 ISIS detainees were “foreign fighters,” with an unknown number being of Western origin. Any of those that manage to escape will be bringing their hatred for the West home with them. To avert a terrorist incident, our intelligence and security services have to be lucky every time; to attack us, they only need to be lucky once.
The president has said that he is not concerned about terrorists “7,000 miles away.” It’s worth remembering that Osama Bin Laden planned the 9/11 attack from thousands of miles away. Had we been more concerned about him during his decade of terrorist attacks leading up to September 11th, perhaps we could have prevented the greatest surprise attack on America since Pearl Harbor. Small numbers of ISIS terrorists and sympathizers have managed to carry out devastating terrorist attacks in Paris, Brussels, Nice, London, Berlin, and elsewhere. Here in America have we forgotten the carnage from the San Bernardino and Pulse Nightclub shootings?
Then there is the potential propaganda boon as ISIS will inevitably show the US retreating from Syria with its tail between its legs, even as the group enjoys a nascent resurgence in Iraq and – now – in northeast Syria. Baghdadi can show that the group has defeated the most powerful Crusader army on the planet. This will be great for the group’s online recruitment efforts. And, of course, we still haven’t lifted a finger to defeat the terrorist, Islamist ideology.
With the release of the US and Kurdish stranglehold on ISIS in Syria, the color has already returned to the caliph’s cheeks as he sits in his own Santa’s workshop planning his next move. It’s gonna be a great Christmas this year!