Baghdadi, a nom de guerre, is the treacherous leader of ISIS (ISIL). The U.S. has already designated Baghdadi a “terrorist” and placed a $10m reward on information leading to his capture or death. It is clear that the latter choice is now mandatory.
Americans can get behind this option once the specific mission is explained to the American people as being in our compelling national interest. Strong national support and a specific achievable mission would help meet the essential elements of the original Weinberger/Powell Doctrine.
A specific targeted mission can be looked at in similar light as the 2001 mission to kill bin Laden and the 2006 bombing of Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi. Many allies in the region have an interest in taking out al-Baghdadi, including the Saudis, Turkey, and Jordan, as well as Iraq’s Shia and the Kurds.
In an unprecedented move, Bagdad has sent a cargo plane loaded with mostly small-arms ammunition in support of Kurdistan’s Peshmerga fighters. The Peshmerga fighters fought side by side with American troops in the 2003 war in Iraqi Kurdistan. It is thought that Peshmerga forces now number 375,000 fighters. The Peshmerga have organized a Special Operations Force (SOF) comprising elite infantry units. With now promised help from Britain as well as from Baghdad, the Peshmerga have the firepower to be the front lines in the effort to remove al-Baghdadi and destroy ISIS.