Its Official! President Donald Trump Confirms ISIS Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Killed In US Operation
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) and arguably the world's most wanted man has been killed, US President Donald Trump confirmed during a press conference on Sunday.
Al-Baghdadi’s body was mutilated after he detonated a suicide vest, but DNA test results provided a positive identification, Trump said. Earlier in the day, several media reports claimed the death of Baghdadi, but an official confirmation regarding the same was awaited.
CNN, citing a senior US defence official and an informed source, reported that al-Baghdadi was killed in a raid conducted by American forces in northeast Syria on Saturday. Shortly after the news reports were out, US President Donald Trump tweeted, saying: "Something very big has just happened."
The White House said late Saturday night that Trump was slated to make a "major statement" at 9 am on Sunday (6.30 p.m. IST), but gave no further details. Al-Baghdadi, who is described as the world's most wanted man, was officially designated by the US in October 2011 a "terrorist" and offered a $10 million reward for information leading to his capture or death, the BBC reported.
What Trump said:
Trump said Baghdadi constantly changed his mind about his movements from his well protected compound in Syria, but, for reasons known to him, this time decided to stay for longer.
"We've had him under surveillance for a couple of weeks. We knew a little bit about where he was going, where he was heading. We had very good information that he was going to another location. He didn't go. Two or three efforts were cancelled because he decided to change his mind," Trump told reporters at the White House after he announced that Baghdadi was dead.
"Finally, we saw that he was here. Held up here. We knew something about the compound. We knew it had tunnels. The tunnels were dead end for the most part. There was one we think that wasn't, but we had that covered too just in case," he said.
Describing the level of intelligence and level of work by US forces as "pretty amazing", Trump said when American commandoes landed with eight helicopters, a large crew of "brilliant" fighters ran out of those helicopters and blew holes into the side of the building.
They did not want to go through the main door because that was booby trapped, he said.
"There was something really amazing to see. I got to watch it along with General Milley, Vice President Pence, others in the situation room. We watched it so clearly," Trump said, but refrained from giving more details.
"I don't want to say how, but we had (it) absolutely perfect as though you are watching a movie. Technology there alone is, is really great," he said.
Born near Samarra, north of Baghdad, in 1971, al-Baghdadi who's real name is Ibrahim Awad al-Badri, has a reputation as a highly organised and ruthless battlefield tactician. Reports suggest that he was a cleric in a mosque in the city around the time of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
He emerged in 2010 as the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, one of the groups that merged with the Islamic State (IS), and rose to prominence during the attempted merger with al-Nusra Front in Syria. Al-Baghdadi has made only one public appearance, in July 2014, in the al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul, which was retaken by Iraqi security forces in June 2017.
This August, the IS had released what it said was a new audio message from al-Baghdadi where he admitted that the IS groups were losing and that it was a test from Allah, saying they needed to stick together.
(With inputs from agencies)
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