Clapper: US can't stop worrying about ISIS after leader's death

Clapper: US can't stop worrying about ISIS after leader's death
© Greg Nash

Former National Director of Intelligence James ClapperJames Robert ClapperTrump's actions on China speak louder than Bolton's words GOP votes to give Graham broad subpoena power in Obama-era probe Graham postpones Russia probe subpoena vote as tensions boil over MORE warned Sunday that the U.S. can't "stop worrying about ISIS” after the death of the group's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s death.

Clapper, who served under former President Obama, said the death of al-Baghdadi had “a huge symbolic meaning” but cautioned that the ISIS ideology extended beyond Baghdadi and said his death will not end the terrorist group. 

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ISIS is more than just Baghdadi, as important as he was,” Clapper told Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperCarson calls for local leaders to 'condemn vandalization of statues,' 'dismantle autonomous zones' Officials couldn't reach Trump on golf course to delete retweet of video showing man chanting 'white power': report Democratic officials, governors push for nationwide mask mandate as administration defends state-by-state approach MORE on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

The former national director of intelligence emphasized that ISIS “did anticipate losing leadership” as they “groomed” other people to potentially take on those roles. 

“I don’t know that they have anybody that would have the symbolic importance of Baghdadi, but I don’t think we can say at this point we can stop worrying about ISIS,” he said.

He agreed that U.S. troops should remain in the area to ensure ISIS is not galvanized by the death.

“What’s going to be interesting is the extent of which this negatively affects ISIS, or does it galvanize the remnants of ISIS that still survives as an ideology and has franchises in other places besides Syria,” Clapper said.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump second-term plans remain a mystery to GOP Trump to hold outdoor rally in New Hampshire on Saturday Eighty-eight years of debt pieties MORE confirmed al-Baghdadi’s death shortly after Clapper’s comments Sunday morning in a press conference, saying, “the United States brought the world’s number one terrorist leader to justice.” Reports circulated Saturday night of the ISIS leader’s death, saying Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest during a raid by the Special Operations forces.

Al-Baghdadi’s death comes after Trump announced the removal of troops from Syria, sparking bipartisan fears about a potential resurgence of ISIS in the region.