As Hot Air notes, the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been announced on Iraqi News, claiming reports from the town of Tal Afar that ISIS has confirmed the death of its leader. If Al-Baghdadi really is dead, and this has not been confirmed although no one has heard from him in a while, few people on this planet would more richly deserve assuming room temperature.

He ruled over a terrorist empire that slaughtered many thousands and made the lives of perhaps hundreds of thousands a living hell. His organization conducted terrorist outrages across the world, including the United States and Europe.

Then, there is the matter of Kayla Jean Mueller, the American aid worker, whom he used as a sex slave, torturing her from his own pleasure and ultimately murdering her. The only downside is that Al-Baghdadi, unlike Osama bin Laden, did not fall to Navy SEAL gunfire.

Why does it matter how Al-Baghdadi died?

It matters, from the point of view of ISIS, how Al-Baghdadi died as much as the fact that he is dead. He has previously been rumored to have been killed in a Russian airstrike, which would have fit the martyrdom narrative neatly. If Al-Baghdadi really is dead, ISIS will almost certainly concoct some sort of story of him dying in battle. Then he will become an example of all good jihadis who yearn for the 72 virgins.

On the other hand, if Al-Baghdadi might have been killed by his own people, say as a power play by underlings, the narrative gets a little murkier. Chaos is said to have ensued in Tal Afar, with pitched battles happening between ISIS factions, which may point toward assassination rather than martyrdom.

What happens next?

ISIS, having lost Mosul in Iraq and being in the process of losing Raqqa in Syria, can ill-afford to have a leadership vacuum with various candidates vying for the throne.

The terrorist army is in the process of transitioning from a quasi-country to a diffuse insurgency, thanks to the hammering it is getting from American-backed forces. Losing the so-called caliphate will be bad enough for the prospect of recruiting and general propaganda. Having two or more potential successors to Al-Baghdadi battling it out will distract from the primary goal of inflicting death and mayhem throughout the world.

When things settle down, ISIS has the potential of surviving as an underground group for many decades. The task of hunting the members of the terrorist army down, keeping it off balance, and limiting the damage it can do will be long and hard work. However, the civilized world is in the process of winning a great victory over ISIS.