Qasem Soleimani: Why his killing is good news for IS jihadists

Iraqi militia chief Abu Mahdi-al-Muhandis died in the same US strike that killed Qasem Soleimani                              AFP


The Islamic State (IS) group has welcomed the death of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, the head of the elite Quds Force.

In a statement, it described the general’s demise as an act of divine intervention that benefitted jihadists. However, it made no mention at all of the US, which carried out the deadly drone strike against Soleimani in Baghdad on 3 January.

It is also very good for IS, and will speed up its recovery from the blows it took when its “caliphate” was smashed.

It is also good news for the extremists that the Iraqi parliament passed a motion demanding an immediate American withdrawal from the entire country.

IS militants have something else to celebrate. When Mr Trump decided to kill Soleimani they were gifted the spectacle of one of their enemies, the US president, assassinating another.

Young Shia men volunteered in their thousands – and Soleimani and his Quds Force were a big part of their transformation into armed units. The militias were ruthless, often brutal foes of IS.

They killed many American soldiers – helped by training and better weapons supplied by Soleimani – which was one of the reasons that President Trump gave for ordering the attack last week.

Their leader, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, met Soleimani at Baghdad’s airport and was blown to pieces alongside him in the same car.

In an editorial of the weekly IS newspaper al-Naba, the group said that Soleimani and al-Muhandis died at the hands of their “allies” – a reference to the US.

It said the enemies of IS were busy fighting each other, which would drain their energy and resources and ultimately benefit jihadists.

History has shown that jihadist extremists thrive most when they can take advantage of instability, chaos, and weakened, divided enemies.

That has happened before and there is a strong chance it will happen again.

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