Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State, died in a U.S. special forces operation.
U.S. President Donald Trump announced the event in a televised Sunday morning address.
“Last night, the United States brought the world’s number one terrorist leader to justice. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead,” Trump said.
Providing details of the raid that led to al-Baghdadi’s death, he added, “U.S. Special Operations forces executed a dangerous and daring nighttime raid in Northwestern Syria and accomplished their mission in grand style. …
“No [U.S.] personnel were lost in the operation, while a large number of Baghdadi’s fighters and companions were killed with him. 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 un-injured. 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, the tunnel had caved in on it, in addition, but test results gave certain, immediate and totally positive identification. It was him.”
Trump hinted at the announcement in a Saturday, 8:23pm, tweet, saying, “Something very big has just happened!”
al-Baghdadi, 48, gained leadership of the Islamic State in 2010, and was responsible for its expansion into Syria and its growth into global recognition and one of the most dangerous terrorist organizations.
In explaining why the U.S. went after al-Baghdadi, Trump mentioned some of the Americans killed by the group, the infamous murder of a Jordanian pilot, and the persecution of Christians and Yazidis in the region.
“Baghdadi and the losers who worked for him, and losers they are. They had no idea what they were getting into. In some cases they were very frightened puppies, in other cases they were hard core killers, but they killed many, many people. Their murder of innocent Americans James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig, and Kayla Mueller were especially heinous. The shocking publicized murder of Jordanian pilot … he was burned alive in a cage for all to see, and the execution of Christians in Libya and Egypt, as well as the genocidal mass murder of Yazidis, rank ISIS among the most depraved organizations in the history of our world,” he said.
Trump thanked Russia, Turkey, Syria, Syrian Kurds, Iraq, as well as the U.S. military for the their parts in the successful raid.
Before taking reporters questions, he finished the written part of his statement saying, “He died like a dog. He died like a coward. The world is now a much safer place. God bless America.”