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U.S. soldiers gather for a brief during a combined joint patrol rehearsal in Manbij, Syria, Nov. 7, 2018 (Photo by Spc. Zoe Garbarino for U.S. Army via AP Images).

As ISIS Regroups, the U.S. Is Forgetting the Lessons of Counterinsurgency—Again

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The surprise reappearance of the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in a recently recorded video seems like a throwback to the mid-2000s. The most visible difference from the video recordings Osama bin Laden used then to remind al-Qaida followers he was still alive—and persuade them he was still relevant—is that al-Baghdadi, who was last seen in 2014, is seated on the floor of what seems like a furnished living room, rather than a cave.

In other ways, too, the defeat of the Islamic State as a self-declared caliphate and its return as a transnational terrorist network would seem to put us back to where we found ourselves in 2001, after the expulsion of al-Qaida from Afghanistan. ...

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