Local Kurd reacts to Bakr al-Baghdadi’s death

The ISIS leader died Saturday during a U.S. military operation in northwest Syria

FARGO, N.D. — Over the past three decades, Kurdish immigrant Kawar Farok watched as dictators in the Middle East came and went; the most recent of which is ISIS leader Bakr al–Baghdadi.

“Extremism is an ideology. It doesn’t end with one person. We saw Bin Laden go. We saw Zarqawi go. We saw Abu Bakr al–Baghdadi go. So, if extremism ended with one person, it would’ve ended with Bin Laden,” says Farok.

As local Kurds celebrate al–Baghdadi’s death, Farok says this is a win not just for his people, but for the rest of the world.

“He enslaved many thousands of Kurdish women. They massacred the men, they killed everybody in their way, and that’s just not a Kurdish concern. That should be a humanitarian concern, right? For the whole world. So, his death should’ve uplifted everyone.”

But he says al–Baghdadi dying doesn’t mean the demise of ISIS.

“People like to think that, ‘Mission completed,’ right? ‘Mission accomplished, we’re done, we got it.’ But it’s not true.”

Although he’s hopeful, Farok says other Kurds in the Fargo–Moorhead area are wary of what’s to come.

“It’s hard to use the word optimistic with the community here because they see things in a different light. So, the only light the Kurds have at the end of the tunnel in the Middle East is America. But, when you’re here living in America, you get to see things from a different perspective.”

He says it’s important for Americans to not undermine the role the Kurds played in capturing al–Baghdadi.

“I think the next steps are salvaging the relationship with the Kurds in Syria. I mean, right now, Trump talks about protecting the oil, but in Kurdish eyes, the people down there, they see it as, ‘Okay, so you gave us up to be slaughtered, but yet securing the oil is number one priority.'”

Farok says nothing will change until the American government recognizes Kurds as allies who share the same values.

President Trump thanked Russia, Turkey, Syria, Iraq and the Syrian Kurds for their support to the mission.

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