Unexpectedly: ISIS leader flees to Syria where U.S. insists he will be safe

posted at 4:01 pm on August 15, 2014 by Noah Rothman

No one could have seen this coming.

In early August, President Barack Obama revealed that he had approved targeted airstrikes on ISIS targets in Iraq. The strikes were aimed at both halting the Islamic State’s advance on cities like Erbil and Baghdad, where American diplomatic and military assets were stationed, and to relieve the pressure on Iraqi minority groups targeted by ISIS for extermination or displacement. Some military analysts noted, however, that the president will be unable to achieve the objective of eliminating the ISIS threat, rather than simply disrupting the group’s operational tempo, unless he expanded the theater of operations to include Syria.

“After all, Syria is where ISIL developed into the fearsome jihadist juggernaut it is today, seizing vast swaths of territory, piles of heavy weapons and even oil fields,” former CIA counterterrorism analyst Aki Peritz wrote in Politico Magazine. “And it’s where much of ISIL’s thousands-strong fighting forces are still based.”

But the president remained steadfast in his determination to limit American operations to Iraq. Having determined that airstrikes on ISIS positions around the western Iraq’s Mount Sinjar, where the encircled Yazidi minority had been trapped for weeks, was a success, the president determined (dubiously) that the American rescue mission in Iraq had completed its objective. He revealed that, with the exception of continued strikes on ISIS positions which threaten American military and diplomatic personnel, the latest American contingency operation in Iraq had been completed.

It seems Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi has been listening to the president. A Kurdish official reportedly said on Friday that the Islamic State leader has left the Iraqi city of Mosul and has returned to Syria.

According to a report in the London-based Arabic news outlet Asharq al-Awsat, al-Baghdadi fled Iraq along with a convoy of ISIS militants.

“According to our intelligence sources, Abu-Bakr Al-Baghdadi traveled to Syria as part of a convoy of 30 Hummer vehicles after fearing being targeted by US airstrikes,” [Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) spokesman Saeed Mamo] Zinni said. He added that Kurdish Peshmerga forces have been able to kill a number of ISIS senior leaders.

An informed source in Mosul, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on condition of anonymity, said that ISIS had killed all Yazidi men in the villages it had besieged around Sinjar after a deadline for them to convert to Islam expired. “[ISIS fighters also] raped the women and girls, and took the children to Mosul,” he added.

The source claimed that ISIS had recruited several young men from Mosul, and that many of the new recruits were sent to fight in the arid Jazeera region in Syria.

Al-Baghdadi’s flight from Iraq may seem like welcome news, but that ISIS fighters have not abandoned their assault on Iraqi targets. As Ed Morrissey flagged on Friday, the Islamic State remains as ambitious as ever.

“The United States believes that while the group remains largely focused on its brutal takeover of large areas of Iraq, there is also an ‘expansion of its external terrorist ambitions,’” CNN reported.


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No one could have seen this coming. Except a blind man that is….

ScottG on August 15, 2014 at 4:06 PM

They should have droned him en route!!!

otlset on August 15, 2014 at 4:06 PM

Doesn’t the “S” stand for umm… you know… Syria?

faraway on August 15, 2014 at 4:07 PM

Why did Obama let that convoy get through. Could of put a dent in ISIS leadership with a few missiles.

Aplombed on August 15, 2014 at 4:07 PM

OOOO the plot thickens. He probably had to go back to Syria to pick up a fresh shipment of American and Libyan weapons.

Sven on August 15, 2014 at 4:11 PM

ISIS on the run already.

#smartpower

everdiso on August 15, 2014 at 4:12 PM

Those Obama convoy strikes drove him right out of Iraq.

Mission Accomplished

///

Walter L. Newton on August 15, 2014 at 4:12 PM

Some military analysts noted, however, that the president will be unable to achieve the objective of eliminating the ISIS threat, rather than simply disrupting the group’s operational tempo, unless he expanded the theater of operations to include Syria.

Cute how some still think of Iraq and Syria as nation states.

rbj on August 15, 2014 at 4:13 PM

ISIS doesn’t recognize the international borders; why should we?

Send in the drones! “Hot pursuit” if you must have a justification.

RedPepper on August 15, 2014 at 4:14 PM

Hmmm. They aren’t telling us something.

John the Libertarian on August 15, 2014 at 4:15 PM

No one could have seen this coming.

Neither should we chase MiG-15′s across the Yalu River, either.

The irony drips heavy here.

Turtle317 on August 15, 2014 at 4:16 PM

ISIS on the run already.

#smartpower

everdiso on August 15, 2014 at 4:12 PM

Seriously, how much do you get paid to drop shiny piles of dog poo in the comments and run? Does Ed or Allah sign your checks?

Johnnyreb on August 15, 2014 at 4:17 PM

Why did Obama let that convoy get through. Could of put a dent in ISIS leadership with a few missiles.

Aplombed on August 15, 2014 at 4:07 PM

Don’t be selfish…Use A-LOT of frickin missiles…

Hell, I don’t care if they used Mason jars full of grenades..USE the damn things, they’re not decorations.

BlaxPac on August 15, 2014 at 4:17 PM

1-2-3 I touch home base! Can’t touch me!

And Obama snaps his fingers and sez “Ahhh nuts!”

Skywise on August 15, 2014 at 4:17 PM

He’ll be back . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . barring assassination.

listens2glenn on August 15, 2014 at 4:18 PM

Seriously, how much do you get paid to drop shiny piles of dog poo in the comments and run? Does Ed or Allah sign your checks?

Johnnyreb on August 15, 2014 at 4:17 PM

the only poo here is the poo streaking the ISIS leaders’ undergarments as they turn tail and run off.

everdiso on August 15, 2014 at 4:20 PM

Why did Obama let that convoy get through. Could of put a dent in ISIS leadership with a few missiles.

Aplombed on August 15, 2014 at 4:07 PM

Unfortunatley Obama could not be reached on the back nine when said movement was detected. But if anyone would have asked Obama what he would have done, Obama would have chirped “I would have droned him if only my advisers let me know in time.” After all, it’s not the deed that counts. It’s the best intentions that matter…and Obama is just so full of best intentions. Don’t believe me. Just ask Obama.

timberline on August 15, 2014 at 4:21 PM

An informed source in Mosul, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on condition of anonymity, said that ISIS had killed all Yazidi men in the villages it had besieged around Sinjar after a deadline for them to convert to Islam expired. “[ISIS fighters also] raped the women and girls, and took the children to Mosul,” he added.

Mirror, mirror on the Blood Drenched Wall
Who is most like Mohammad of them all?
Why, you are ISIS, you are!

There is nothing that ISIS has done that is not totally in accordance with Islam and the teachings of all Muslims’ “Perfect Man”, Mohammad, and the examples that he personally and repeatedly set. ISIS is just the latest of a long history of Islamic outbreaks. As long as the source tumor remains any respites will be only temporary.

VorDaj on August 15, 2014 at 4:21 PM

An informed source in Mosul, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on condition of anonymity, said that ISIS had killed all Yazidi men in the villages it had besieged around Sinjar after a deadline for them to convert to Islam expired. “[ISIS fighters also] raped the women and girls, and took the children to Mosul,” he added.

How many Imams in America have denounced this in no uncertain terms? They can’t or they would be denouncing Mohammad himself.

VorDaj on August 15, 2014 at 4:23 PM

OOOO the plot thickens. He probably had to go back to Syria to pick up a fresh shipment of American and Libyan weapons.

Sven on August 15, 2014 at 4:11 PM

Bingo.

VorDaj on August 15, 2014 at 4:25 PM

A convoy of Hummers? Who is financing these guys?

Exninja on August 15, 2014 at 4:27 PM

ISIS on the run already.

#smartpower

everdiso on August 15, 2014 at 4:12 PM


Actually Obama’s azz is a pretty safe place to be.

Ned Pepper on August 11, 2014 at 4:36 PM

UnstChem on August 15, 2014 at 4:28 PM

Ooops … wrong tag … oh well.

UnstChem on August 15, 2014 at 4:29 PM

A convoy of Hummers? Who is financing these guys?

Exninja on August 15, 2014 at 4:27 PM

You, me, our children, and grandchildren. The retreating Iraqis left behind oodles of stuff, plus whatever gold they stole from the Mosul banks, oil they sold on the sly, etc….

307wolverine on August 15, 2014 at 4:30 PM

Mission Accomplished III!

Is there nothing he cannot do?

formwiz on August 15, 2014 at 4:34 PM

Here’s the real challenge with this craven and feckless Administration… they are completely unwilling to not only define who are enemies are in the clearest possible terms, but to do what it will take to eliminate those enemies at this relatively nascent time of their development and power.

The US government has basically told them that Syria is a sanctuary / safe-haven for them. They can’t be allowed any sanctuary or safe haven.

Second, as they’ve already learned, they are not going to fight a synchronous war. They don’t wear uniforms. They are willing and going to hide amongst civilians and use those civilians as human shields – and they know full well that much of the global media will defame the US as they are currently defaming Israel in its conflict against the terrorists of Hamas.

There’s also no will in this Administration to confront their tactics or mobilize a coalition of the West to put boots on the ground. Too many of our allies are as craven and as feckless as our current leadership.

Instead, the action will be attempts to appease, to use proxies of questionable capabilities, and minute pinpricks to give the appearance of doing something.

Meanwhile the cancer metathesizes not only in that region but in naive Western nations who subscribe to multi-culturalism, appeasement, and political correctness and are naively reliving the late 1930′s.

The fight will only get worse, not better – and that is going to be one of the most dismal legacies of this pathetic Administration.

Athos on August 15, 2014 at 4:35 PM

But the president remained steadfast in his determination to limit American operations to Iraq.

Well no kidding! Duh! Expanding operations to Syria would smack of militarizing the military which ISIS could perceive as heavy-handed. Better to extend a teddy bear or soccer ball instead of a missile.

Happy Nomad on August 15, 2014 at 4:35 PM

A convoy of Hummers? Who is financing these guys?

Exninja on August 15, 2014 at 4:27 PM

It’s estimated they have over 2 billion in cash from a combo of bank robberies, selling energy back to Syria from a dam they own, extortion from locals, etc. They also have Hummers, Russian tanks, and some Blackhawks fell into their hands that they haven’t managed to get in the air.

These guys are not acting very 7th century. They’re acting more like modern organized crime syndicates in America.

UnstChem on August 15, 2014 at 4:39 PM

I imagine he’s going to Syria because they are falling below their Murder Quota this month.

Only a matter of time before the Iraqi side needs more attention.

grahsco on August 15, 2014 at 4:42 PM

Step 1) stop pretending that there are some magical rebels in Syria that are moderates. There are none. They never existed.

Step 2) we want to weaken IS, you start freaking bombing Raqqa in Syria and their other strongholds and be merciless.

Step 3) we have to come to the realization that the Devil called Assad is a devil that you can negotiate with, unlike the devil called IS. In an ideal world, we would not have to make that choice. But we don’t the luxury. We NEVER did.

step 4) demand our allies called Turkey and others stop providing transit routes and money to those rebels.

The order these needs to done can change but they need to be done. If we move IS out of Iraq and into Syria they will only regroup become stronger and try again.

coolrepublica on August 15, 2014 at 4:43 PM

They’re acting more like modern organized crime syndicates in America.

UnstChem on August 15, 2014 at 4:39 PM

They also have a very organized power structure that demands a portion of all monies acquired by any means from anyone in the organization be sent up the chain.

UnstChem on August 15, 2014 at 4:46 PM

They’re acting more like modern organized crime syndicates in America.

that’s exactly what they are.

and they should be hunted down and eliminated just like the mafia.

you don’t declare war against gangs.

everdiso on August 15, 2014 at 4:53 PM

““According to our intelligence sources, Abu-Bakr Al-Baghdadi traveled to Syria as part of a convoy of 30 Hummer vehicles after fearing being targeted by US airstrikes,”

The roads from Mosul to Syria are very long and straight…

… No doubt President Vacation gave another ‘stand down’ order.

No doubt…

Seven Percent Solution on August 15, 2014 at 4:54 PM

Well a liberal knows a liberal mind…liberals will sacrifice everything you have, including your life…but when it comes to them, they run to safety.

Professional courtesy…

right2bright on August 15, 2014 at 5:00 PM

Now if this would have been President Jack Ryan he would have purposely said we weren’t going into Iraq and he would have personally taken out the convoy (because he would have been in the room with the drone pilot just waiting to push the button).

Sven on August 15, 2014 at 5:02 PM

Hey everdiso,
Did you actually read this post? ISIS is growing stronger by the day in Iraq and is now threatening the US mainland. Obamas pathetic attempt at playing the tough guy in Iraq through targeted missile strikes has failed. Our own intelligence even say that they have done very little. Maybe Al-Bahgdadi did flee to Syria. Can you blame him? He will be back though. ISIS is getting stronger bu the day in Syria as well. It is only a matter of time before there are American boots on the ground……..and all because we waited to long to act.

Definitely not smart power.

bright right on August 15, 2014 at 5:05 PM

Yeah, I read the article trying to desperately explain away the fact that ISIS leadership is running away from their great conquering invasion already.

everdiso on August 15, 2014 at 5:18 PM

Description
The Tomahawk missile family consists of a number of subsonic, jet engine-powered missiles designed to attack a variety of surface targets. Although a number of launch platforms have been deployed or envisaged, only sea (both surface ship and submarine) launched variants are currently in service. Tomahawk has a modular design, allowing a wide variety of warhead, guidance, and range capabilities.

Defenestratus on August 15, 2014 at 5:19 PM

Yeah, I read the article trying to desperately explain away the fact that ISIS leadership is running away from their great conquering invasion already.

everdiso on August 15, 2014 at 5:18 PM

Yes, and Barry runs away to Martha’s Vineyard. Difference is Al Baghdadi is commited to his cause, the other, not so much.

Sven on August 15, 2014 at 5:22 PM

you don’t declare war against gangs.

everdiso on August 15, 2014 at 4:53 PM

When one violates the civil criminal code, you handle as if it were a crime.

When one violates the rules of warfare, commits genocide, torture, and mass murder while invading sovereign states, it’s an act of war and you handle it as if it were a war.

One of the reasons behind 9/11/01 was because we spent most of the 1990′s (1993 on) treating terrorism as it was crime and not acts of war by non-government entities supported by governments. Retuning to a 9/10/01 mentality helps our enemies. That, everdiso, is the naive direction you are advocating.

Athos on August 15, 2014 at 5:26 PM

Trying to declare a ground war against a gang is just stupid. It makes no sense.

as we have seen over the last decade.

everdiso on August 15, 2014 at 5:27 PM

Trying to declare a ground war against a gang is just stupid. It makes no sense.

as we have seen over the last decade.

everdiso on August 15, 2014 at 5:27 PM

Yes, better to let them get strong enough to attack our homeland.

Sven on August 15, 2014 at 5:30 PM

they’re too busy fighting their neighbours to ever attack us.

everdiso on August 15, 2014 at 5:37 PM

they’re too busy fighting their neighbours to ever attack us.

everdiso on August 15, 2014 at 5:37 PM

Your right, why should we worry, they are the JV!

Sven on August 15, 2014 at 5:38 PM

I wonder who are the real enemies are in everdiso’s world…

Aplombed on August 15, 2014 at 5:43 PM

And here is how they get here, easily!

Sven on August 15, 2014 at 5:43 PM

Repost for correction:

I wonder who the real enemies are in everdiso’s world…

Aplombed on August 15, 2014 at 5:44 PM

These guys are not acting very 7th century. They’re acting more like modern organized crime syndicates in America.

UnstChem on August 15, 2014 at 4:39 PM

A couple of centuries of Muslim occupation was the genesis of the Mafia. They operate on the same lines as Muslims do when dealing with dhimmis.

BL@KBIRD on August 15, 2014 at 5:45 PM

everdiso on August 15, 2014 at 5:37 PM
And that was the judgment of the previous administration prior to 9/11.

flackcatcher on August 15, 2014 at 5:47 PM

Trying to declare a ground war against a gang is just stupid. It makes no sense.

as we have seen over the last decade.

everdiso on August 15, 2014 at 5:27 PM

And repeating 1993 to 2000 works even worse.

ISIS is not a gang. It’s an ideological army waging a jihad in the name of their religion…and violating virtually every rule of war while in the process.

But keep confirming just how naive and uninformed you are…you are starting to catch up with King Lame Duck the First and his feckless Administration.

If you can’t learn from history, you will repeat it.

Athos on August 15, 2014 at 5:57 PM

Another missed opportunity that will make the world worse.

Two more years of this? We are doomed.

PattyJ on August 15, 2014 at 6:06 PM

Tactical retreat. Big deal. So he knows the drones are after him, or maybe a 500 pound smart bomb.

Viator on August 15, 2014 at 6:08 PM

I am so confused. Tell me again, whose side is Barack Obama on ?

steveracer on August 15, 2014 at 6:11 PM

So will we soon be bombing both sides in Syria?

MidniteRambler on August 15, 2014 at 6:33 PM

So will we soon be bombing both sides in Syria?

Oh right–the moderate rebels in Syria are our allies.

/s

MidniteRambler on August 15, 2014 at 6:33 PM

Doesn’t the “S” stand for umm… you know… Syria?

faraway on August 15, 2014 at 4:07 PM

.
Islamic State of Iraq and Syria… no, the “S” stands for “State.”

ExpressoBold on August 15, 2014 at 6:43 PM

they’re too busy fighting their neighbours to ever attack us.

everdiso on August 15, 2014 at 5:37 PM

.
Neighbors… hmmmmm… british english spelling…
.
Tell me: who is/was Mo Atta?

ExpressoBold on August 15, 2014 at 6:48 PM

I wonder if any one has designed a laser pulse detector that was kept in proximity to where this Head Muzzie was?
Cause if I thought that if any of SOF types were trying to “GET” me, I’d like an early warning system to indicate I was being ‘painted’.
By that time … the bird is on it’s way.
And …
BOOM.
Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi heads to Hell as a pink vapor.

Missilengr on August 15, 2014 at 7:00 PM

So, Obama let all those people die before using drone strikes?

The depth of his depravity has yet to be fully exposed.

Bigbullets on August 15, 2014 at 7:11 PM

Yeah, I read the article trying to desperately explain away the fact that ISIS leadership is running away from their great conquering invasion already.
everdiso on August 15, 2014 at 5:18 PM

I missed the part where he took the invasion back with him to Syria. I just see we let him take a convoy of 30 hummers there unmolested.

Cliff by the Ford on August 15, 2014 at 7:22 PM

. . . . . they should be hunted down and eliminated just like the mafia.

you don’t declare war against gangs.

everdiso on August 15, 2014 at 4:53 PM

.
The “mafia” isn’t trying to take over whole countries by militant, terrorism and conquest. The “mafia” isn’t demanding people believe a particular “theology” in their heart and soul, or face a slow beheading or crucifixion.
.
The “mafia” is contended with on a CIVILIAN level, in a court of law.

Practitioners of Islamic Jihad are dealt with using our military and it’s military grade weapons of DEATH.
.
That requires declaring WAR on them, even if they are not a “country.”

listens2glenn on August 15, 2014 at 7:25 PM

they’re too busy fighting their neighbours to ever attack us.

everdiso on August 15, 2014 at 5:37 PM

.
Neighbors… hmmmmm… british english spelling…
.
Tell me: who is/was Mo Atta?

ExpressoBold on August 15, 2014 at 6:48 PM

He’s another Canadian troll, he’s given it away several times. Ask him to talk French for you.

slickwillie2001 on August 15, 2014 at 7:46 PM

they’re too busy fighting their neighbours to ever attack us.

everdiso on August 15, 2014 at 5:37 PM

Yep. They were also too busy in Syria to roll through Iraq.

You guys are eternally naive.

Bigbullets on August 15, 2014 at 7:47 PM

obama is good at giving the enemy all kinds of strategic advantages. That’s what happens when you tell him ahead of time what you are going or not going to do, and set public timelines.

paul1149 on August 15, 2014 at 8:05 PM

Yes, and Barry BAMMMSTAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU DA MANNNNNNNN BAMMMMY BABBYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOVE YA BARRY OL BUDDY OL PALLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!YYYYYYYYYYYYYEAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!.

Sen on August 5, 2014 at 22 PM

cableguy615 on August 15, 2014 at 9:08 PM

bin Laden retreated to Afghanistan to plan/prep for 9/11.

al-Baghdadi is going into Syria to plan/prep for ???

freedomfirst on August 16, 2014 at 12:50 AM

Yes, and Barry runs away to Martha’s Vineyard. Difference is Al Baghdadi is commited to his cause, the other, not so much.

Sven on August 15, 2014 at 5:22 PM

Some might argue the cause is similar.

freedomfirst on August 16, 2014 at 12:53 AM

Why did Obama let that convoy get through. Could of put a dent in ISIS leadership with a few missiles.

Aplombed on August 15, 2014 at 4:07 PM

He was busy lining up a putt.

Dopenstrange on August 16, 2014 at 6:08 AM

Welcome to war the donkey way.

Pin-prick air strikes coupled with “bombing halts;” sending in “advisors” in dribs and drabs; confusing the objective of defeating the enemy with “humanitarianism;” thinking that you can negotiate with an enemy bent on total victory regardless of cost; granting the enemy sanctuary in neighboring countries; encouraging regime changes on the local “ally;” misleading the American people with over-optimistic appraisals of the battlefield situation and insisting that no, this isn’t going to lead to a wider involvement while ignoring their own senior military advisors.

This is how they fought the Vietnam War.

They haven’t learned a damn thing from it. Not. One. Damn. Thing.

Of course, why should they have? King Barry sure as hell didn’t study what happened in that war and why, nor did Valerie Jarrett, who is probably the person to whom he delegated operational control (LBJ had his sand table down in the basement of the White House where he could micro-manage things, but there’s no way that the King is going to miss his tee time).

For King Barry, “history” begins when he gets out of bed at 8:30 and goes to the bathroom to pee. And he’s too busy trying to write himself into the history books to bother reading any.

“Last Osprey leaving the US embassy in Baghdad” is going to be our 21st Century version of “Last chopper off the rooftop of the US embassy in Saigon.” Bank on it.

Spurius Ligustinus on August 16, 2014 at 11:26 AM

Chicken shit…

snoozinglion on August 16, 2014 at 2:41 PM