ISIS Is Gloating

Graeme Wood

The Atlantic

October 14, 2019

Yesterday saw multiple reports of jailbreaks from Kurdish-operated prisons and camps that contained ISIS supporters. The Kurds, now battered by the full force of a Turkish invasion approved by Donald Trump, have allocated resources away from prisons and to their own survival, which is threatened more acutely by the Turkish military than by the Islamic State. Kurds have fled, prisons have been left unattended, and ISIS members, including Europeans and other foreigners posing serious terrorist threats, have walked free or may walk free soon. ISIS propaganda channels are gloating. The forces that defeated ISIS are scampering frantically around the desert, hunted like jackrabbits and desperate for protection, now that America has forsaken them.


Some have likened the mass release of ISIS members to the period in the early 2010s when ISIS busted Sunnis out of jails in Iraq, and many joined the group in search of protection. But the comparison does not do justice to the ludicrous follies and entirely predictable consequences of the last week. More apt might be the climactic scene of the 1984 movie Ghostbusters, in which an orange-haired government employee (William Atherton) defies all logic and expert advice, and directly causes the release of thousands of supernatural ghouls onto the streets of Manhattan. That Walpurgisnacht could have been prevented indefinitely just by letting the Ghostbusters keep doing what they had been doing. No sane person would have ordered the demons freed, but no sane person was present to countermand the order.


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