Just in time for Halloween, one of the most famous undead people in the world, the Islamic State (ISIS) caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been reported dead yet again, and this time it actually appears to be true. President Trump announced the news in an address on Sunday morning, and predictably, the Left is now furious. Any enemy of Trump is a friend of theirs, and suddenly Leftists are deeply concerned about Trump’s affronts to the dignity of the fallen leader.
Trump said of al-Baghdadi that the United States had “brought the world’s number one terrorist leader to justice.” Al-Baghdadi, according to Trump, fled his pursuers and finally blew himself up in a jihad suicide bombing. Said Trump: “He was a sick and depraved man, and now he’s gone. He died like a dog, he died like a coward.” He died “crying, whimpering and screaming.”
Barack Obama’s former Ambassador to Qatar, Dana Shell Smith, was furious – not at the man who had committed mass murder of innumerable innocent civilians, and had sanctioned the seizure of non-Muslim women and their use at sex slaves, but at the man who oversaw his killing. She tweeted: “This gruesome, vivid and probably exaggerated description of dogs chasing down Baghdadi will endanger our personnel in the region. When bin Laden was killed, we were careful to be clear that he had been given a proper Muslim burial. Not because we gave a damn about him but because it was important for our relationships in the region and safety of our military and diplomats.”
In reality, that was totally incoherent. On the one hand, Obama was insisting that jihad terrorists had nothing whatsoever to do with the peaceful religion of Islam, and then he turned around and gave one of the world’s leading Islamic jihadists a respectful Muslim burial. This didn’t gain the US any respect or save any lives; it just made us look ridiculous.
Does Dana Shell Smith actually think that some of the jihadis in the Middle East will think, “Well, I was going to go easy on the Americans, but now that they have shown al-Baghdadi disrespect, I will crush them”? They were already trying to kill Americans, and will keep trying. In reality, it is the exaggerated respect shown to those who have vowed to destroy us that makes jihadis see us as weak and ripe for the taking. The only thing they respect is strength, and the only thing Obama and Dana Shell Smith projected was weakness.
The establishment media reaction was even worse. The Washington Post headlined its story about the killing as if Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was one of their favored anti-Trump intellectuals, dead at a tragically young age: “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State, dies at 48.” Bloomberg wrote that “Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi transformed himself from a little-known teacher of Koranic recitation into the self-proclaimed ruler of an entity that covered swaths of Syria and Iraq.”
The respect! The deference! The admiration! Imagine what the Washington Post and Bloomberg will say when Trump dies. There is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the headlines will be scathing, not remotely as adulatory as they are for the caliph. And imagine if a prominent foe of jihad terror died, and the Washington Post was writing about his death. Imagine that this individual had never called for or condoned any violence, much less terrorism, and had stood all his life for the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, and the equality of rights of all people before the law. And he wrote about how Islamic jihadis used the texts and teachings of Islam to justify violence and oppression. Do you think the Washington Post would headline his obituary in such a respectful manner?
Of course they wouldn’t. They would headline their story, “Far-Right Islamophobic Extremist Dies” or some such. If such a person were murdered, they would suggest in their story that he brought it on himself with his “extremist” rhetoric.
But al-Baghdadi, a mass murderer, enslaver of Infidel women, villain of history? An “austere religious scholar.” That’s where we are today.
Also, it’s likely that the Post’s propaganda masters were unhappy with this headline for implying a negative view of Islam. Al-Baghdadi, a twister and hijacker of the true, peaceful Islam, a “religious scholar”? Actually, it was accurate: he had a PhD in Islamic theology. But that fact doesn’t fit the narrative, and so must be deep-sixed.
Anyway, the reaction on the Left to al-Baghdadi’s death is telling, but it is more for their having to deal with yet another success of a President they’re determined to destroy than for any actual love for al-Baghdadi. Then again, the “austere religious scholar” did hate America as much as they do. Maybe behind all the self-righteous indignation over Trump’s rhetoric, there is some real grief.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The History of Jihad From Muhammad to ISIS. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.