Even if Islamic State (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in U.S.-led air strikes last week, it would not cripple the terror organization, according to former House Intelligence Chairman Pete Hoekstra.
"This will not be a game changer even if we did get al-Baghdadi," Hoekstra said Monday on "America’s Forum" on Newsmax TV
. "ISIS has and gets its strength from the former Baathists and military officials that were part of Saddam's regime. They were Shias.
"These folks have now found a home in ISIS and they have the bureaucratic skills and the military skills to continue to have this be a military power even if they were decapitated."
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A spokesman for the U.S. military's Central Command has said there is no information to corroborate media reports that Baghdadi was wounded in any of strikes which took place in Mosul and al-Qaim.
Iraqi state television reported that a Baghdadi aide was killed in the airstrike, but there have been contradictory reports about Baghdadi’s fate
Hoekstra said he would not be surprised that military intelligence would have gleaned information about ISIS leaders "moving from point A to point B, but we may not have known exactly who was in the convoy."
He also weighed in on the addition of another 1,500 American troops
to "train and guard" Iraqi troops, saying it’s not nearly a big enough force to help eradicate ISIS.
"It's not a surge at this point," he said. "It's going up and adding another 1,500 troops getting up to 3,000, that is not the kind of surge that moves us from being on defense to move the coalition to being on offense.
"Members of Congress have traveled to Baghdad, they've met with their defense ministers, they've met with other folks in the government, and from the feedback that I'm getting is that this government and this military is not yet ready for prime time. They're not ready to go on offense.
"They're being sent primarily for training. Training an Iraqi army that we thought we had trained four, five or six years ago.”
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