On Thursday, Feb. 3, President Biden proudly announced the death of ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) leader Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi. According to the official reports, when U.S. Special Forces raided his compound in northwestern Syria, al-Qurayshi detonated explosives that killed him and his family members. His predecessor, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, met a similar fate in 2019.
Biden gloated over this so-called “counter-terrorism” operation, and used it to promote the idea of the United States as the bearer of justice, protecting the so-called “free world” against evil terrorists. Biden said: “Last night’s operation took a major terrorist leader off the battlefield, and it sent a strong message to terrorists around the world: We will come after you and find you.” These are the same theatrics we saw from President Trump in 2019, after the operation that took out al-Baghdadi. Trump said: “Terrorists who oppress and murder innocent people should never sleep soundly, knowing that we will completely destroy them.” In 2011, President Obama used the killing of Osama bin Laden to boost his ratings, while repeating the same idea and celebrating the war on Afghanistan.
This mainstream narrative of good versus evil ignores the origin of ISIS: U.S. Imperialism. ISIS is a direct result of the latest U.S. war on Iraq (2003-2011), which devastated the country under the guise of a so-called “War on Terror.” The war was supported by Joe Biden as well as the overwhelming majority of the U.S. political establishment.
The massive U.S. military machine has killed millions of people around the world, and it was not for freedom or against terror. All U.S. wars were fought to ensure the profits of the U.S. ruling class – the capitalists who own the world’s biggest corporations, and who exploit many countries for their natural resources and labor. It is through a combination of military intervention and supporting brutal dictatorships that the U.S. ruling elite dominates many countries around the world.
Organizations like ISIS indeed target civilians and resort to gruesome executions, a method known as terror. So it is easy to condemn ISIS as “terrorists.” But we must remember who created this backlash: the most violent terrorist group in the world has long been the U.S. ruling class.