Osama bin Laden

Pundits think Islamic State’s Baghdadi is smart because he’s cruel. That’s nonsense

Pundits think Islamic State’s Baghdadi is smart because he’s cruel. That’s nonsense

Is Abu Bakr Baghdadi, the infamously cruel Islamic State leader, an unusually smart terrorist?

Terrorism pundits seem to think the answer is “yes” — precisely because he’s turned cruelty into a sort of brand. He gained notoriety in the West for indiscriminately killing civilians and then directing his followers to brag about wanton bloodshed in “Jihadi John” beheading videos. Many would argue that, by leaving a photographic trail of bloodshed in his wake, Baghdadi has surpassed Osama bin Laden, the former Al Qaeda leader. In a Politico...

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