Islamic State takes on the world and is bound to lose

By David Horsey | Los Angeles Times | Published: December 31, 2015

Abu Bakr Baghdadi, the elusive leader of Islamic State’s nascent caliphate, has issued a new threat, saying that Israel has come into the sights of his terrorist horde. Although this news should be alarming to Israelis, it is more evidence that the outsize ambitions of ISIS far exceed the group’s capabilities.

Baghdadi wants to take on the world and there is no way he can win.

In a long speech on Saturday, Baghdadi appeared to be responding to critics among his fellow extreme Islamists who say ISIS has purposely picked on easy targets and avoided a fight with Israel. “Soon, soon you will hear the crawl of the mujahedin, and their vanguards will surround you on a day you believe is far but that we see as close,” he warned Israelis.

Baghdadi also renewed threats against the United States, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, the Kurds and Shiite Muslims whose most potent and populace center of power is Iran. That is an impressive list of enemies. It is akin to a hyena taking on an elephant herd. The hyena will get some nasty bites in, but, ultimately, will be crushed.

Since the deadly ISIS-inspired attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, certain presidential candidates have revved up fear of terrorists to advance their political interests. Major segments of the news media have pumped up the hype that Americans are scared. I actually do not think most of us are all that rattled, though. We are not unconcerned about the likelihood of more attacks from Islamic extremists, but we know ISIS is not an existential threat to the United States — or Russia or China or Iran or Europe. And even though the Israelis are more vulnerable because of their country’s proximity to the terrorists’ bases of operation, they are not alone in this fight. Americans have got their back.

To those Americans who are, nevertheless, fearful and who are being seduced by cranks and blowhards who propose crazy ideas, such as banning Muslims from the country, I suggest getting a sense of proportion. According to a Washington Post report, the odds of an American being killed by terrorists of any kind anywhere are 1 in 20 million. Statistics prove you are far more likely to die choking on food, falling off a bike, getting bit by a dog, being hit by lightning or getting shot by a relative with a gun. If the likelihood of premature death really concerns you, ISIS should be far less terrifying than driving on a freeway.

None of this means the phenomenon of terrorist acts perpetrated by merciless jihadists is not a daunting, complex challenge to the civilized, sane world. It most certainly is. But, if we are considering the odds, then the odds are overwhelmingly on our side. Baghdadi’s apocalyptic ideology may be attractive to gullible young Muslims looking for purpose in their lives, but his fantastical delusions are disconnected from reality. He and his fools’ army will never conquer the world; the world will conquer him.


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