ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in an overnight raid by U.S. special forces in Syria’s Idlib, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Oct. 27.
Baghdadi killed himself during the raid by igniting a suicide vest, Trump said in a televised address from the White House. Test results from the aftermath of the raid had positively identified Baghdadi, he said.
“Last night the United States brought the world’s number one terrorist leader to justice. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead,” Trump said.
“He was the founder and leader of ISIS. The most ruthless and violent terror organization anywhere in the world. The United States has been searching for Baghdadi for many years. Capturing or killing Baghdadi has been the top national security priority of my administration.”
“He was a sick and depraved man and now he’s gone,” Trump said, adding that he died “like a dog” and “like a coward.”
Trump called the raid on Baghdadi “impeccable,” while adding that one “beautiful” U.S. military dog was injured.
“US Special operations forces executed a dangerous and daring night time raid. In northwestern Syria and accomplished their mission in grand style, the U.S. personnel were incredible,” Trump said.
“I got to watch much of it. No personnel were lost in the operation. While a large number of Baghdadi’s fighters and companions were killed with him,” he added.
Trump also gave details of Baghdadi’s last minutes.
“He died after running into a dead end tunnel, whimpering and crying and screaming all the way. The compound had been cleared by this time with people either surrendering or being shot and killed. Eleven young children were moved out of the house and are uninjured,” he said, adding that the eleven children were left under the care of an unnamed third party.
“The only ones remaining were Baghdadi in the tunnel and he had dragged three of his young children with him. They were led to certain death. He reached the end of the tunnel as our dogs chased him down. He ignited his vest, killing himself and the three children. His body was mutilated by the blast,” Trump added.
Under Iraqi-born Baghdadi’s rule, ISIS — which at one point controlled swathes of Syria and Iraq — is responsible for gruesome attacks against religious minorities and attacks on five continents.
“The thug who tried so hard to intimidate others spent his last moments in utter fear, panic and dread, terrified of the American forces coming down on him,” the Republican president said in a televised address to the nation from the White House.
In what may end up being one of Trump’s most important national security achievements, the killing of Baghdadi will help the Republican president project strength as he fights a widening impeachment inquiry launched by Democrats last month.
During his triumphant speech, Trump told reporters that Baghdadi was under surveillance for a couple of weeks and that 2-3 planned missions were scrapped before the successful one was launched.
Trump said the U.S. flew over certain Russian airspace during the mission.
The President said he watched the operation from the Situation Room but would not give more details of what type of feed it was.
Trump said it was a “very dangerous mission,” regarding flying in and flying out.
During the mission he said U.S. service members were met with local gunfire, which was eliminated.
In his announcement, Trump thanked Russia, Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Syrian Kurds for helping in the mission. He said the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) gave the U.S. helpful information.
Later in his speech, Trump also thanked Syria “to some extent.”