Rice expert on what al-Baghdadi death means for future of ISIS


Amy McCaig

Rice expert on what al-Baghdadi death means for future of ISIS

HOUSTON – (Oct. 28, 2019) – On the morning of Oct. 27, President Donald Trump announced that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi died following a U.S. military raid in northwest Syria. What does his demise mean for the future of ISIS? Rice University political scientist Ric Stoll is available to weigh in.

Richard Stoll“President Trump justifiably celebrated the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” Stoll said. “It was a tremendous success for the U.S. military forces that were involved. But ISIS continues to be a dangerous group despite its recent losses of personnel and territory. We need to understand that this one death does not mean the end of the organization.”

Stoll noted ISIS has lost leaders before and was able to continue its operations.

“I expect that this will be true after al-Baghdadi’s death,” he said. “One reason is that in August 2019 al-Baghdadi handed over the day-to-day management of operations to Abdullah Qardash.  Some argue that after that, al-Baghdadi was just a figurehead for the organization. According to the U.S. government ISIS still has between 14,000 and 18,000 fighters in Syria and Iraq. So don’t expect them to disappear.”

Stoll said one important part of the mission that hasn’t received enough attention is the seizure of documents, computers and other materials.

“This information will aid the U.S. and its allies to inflict further damage on ISIS,” he said. “But be prepared for a long fight.”

Stoll is the Albert Thomas Professor of Political Science in Rice’s School of Social Sciences and a scholar at Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. His research focuses on forecasting terrorism and the quantitative study of international conflict, for which he uses both statistical analysis and computer simulation. He is quoted regularly by local and national media outlets on issues involving national security and international conflict.

To schedule an interview with Stoll, contact Jeff Falk, associate director of national media relations at Rice, at 713-348-6775 or jfalk@rice.edu.

Rice University has a VideoLink ReadyCam TV interview studio. ReadyCam is capable of transmitting broadcast-quality standard-definition and high-definition video directly to all news media organizations around the world 24/7.


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Related materials:

Richard Stoll bio: https://politicalscience.rice.edu/richard-stoll

Photo link: https://news.rice.edu/files/2014/04/ric-stoll.jpg

Photo credit: Rice University

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About Amy McCaig

Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.