France is on a state of high alert after the killing of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, with officials calling on police to remain vigilant against what could be revenge terrorist attacks.
As Reuters reported, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner sent a letter to police prefects calling for increased vigilance in the wake of the military operation that led to the Islamic State leader’s death on Saturday. Castaner noted that France could be a target for terrorist attacks.
“The possible intensification of jihadist propaganda following this death, which could possibly call for acts of vengeance, requires the most extreme vigilance, notable during public events in your departments in coming days,” Castaner said.
Islamic State has taken credit for a number of terrorist attacks in France in recent years, including a series of coordinated attacks across Paris in November 2015 that left a total of 138 people dead. A number of other attacks have targeted churches across France.
Baghdadi was considered the most-wanted terrorist in the world, and was killed on Saturday in an American-led raid in northwestern Syria. President Donald Trump said that Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest, killing himself and three of his children as American forces moved in on him.
The Baghdadi killing was reportedly several weeks in the making, with forces training for the mission and with Trump giving the green light for the attack on Friday that was carried out on Saturday.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that what transpired was the result of great intelligence work and help from America’s partners to find his location. The Islamic State leader had been on the run for years, not making public appearances since the start of the militant group’s rule over Iraq and Syria.
His death is seen as a significant blow to Islamic State, which had been pushed out of the land it overtook in lightning strikes across Iraq and Syria between 2014 and 2015. But world leaders say that Islamic State could still be dangerous, especially after Trump’s withdrawal of American troops in northern Syria that destabilized the region and allowed militants being held in a network of prisons across that area to escape.
“The death of al-Baghdadi is significant, but the death of this [Islamic State] leader does not mean the death of [Islamic State],” U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement, via NBC News. “Scores of [Islamic State] fighters remain under uncertain conditions in Syrian prisons, and countless others in the region and around the world remain intent on spreading their influence and committing acts of terror.”