ISIS will live until its leaders are wiped out

In bygone days, officials in some European nations had a way of emphasizing that their forms of government would endure. When a sovereign died and a new one was being crowned, the cry was, “The king is dead — long live the king!”

Sadly, so it is with Islamic terrorists.

There was rejoicing among many in the Middle East last week, at the news from Raqqa, Syria. That city, long the unofficial capital of ISIS, has been liberated by U.S.-backed forces.

ISIS lives, however. The old capital may be gone, but the thugs will find a new one, or perhaps simply take their bloody show on the road. Their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, remains at large. Thousands of ISIS soldiers have scattered from Raqqa to other locations. Terrorists allied with the group remain threats as far away as the Philippines.

Waging war against terrorist groups is not a matter of taking and holding territory. It is a question of eliminating a foe’s ability to do harm. Sometimes, that can be accomplished by breaking an enemy’s will to fight.

It is not that way with ISIS and other Islamic terrorist organizations. Thousands of their members are dedicated to killing any who oppose them, or dying in the attempt.

The reconquest of Raqqa was a morale boost to our Middle Eastern allies. It was a small victory, but only that. Civilized human beings will be safe from ISIS and brutes like them only when the terrorists have been eradicated.