DONALD Trump said ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi “died like a dog” when he blew himself up in a tunnel as he fled US special forces.
The President said the ISIS chief – who became the world’s most wanted man – died “crying, whimpering and screaming and bringing three kids with him”.
Video posted on a militant website April 29, 2019, shows al-Baghdadi at a secret location with a weapon by his side[/caption]
The scene of where Baghdadi is believed to have blown himself up, in northwestern Syria[/caption]
Hailing last night’s operation as an “unbelievable success” Mr Trump called it a “great night for the US and for the world” as they had brought the “world’s greater terrorist leader to justice”.
In a further blow to ISIS, Baghdadi’s second in command Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir was also killed.
Both operations were carried out with the help of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
“A brutal killer, one who caused so much hardship and death, has been violently eliminated…he will never again harm another innocent man, woman or child,” said Trump.
As US forces bore down on him, Mr Trump said the ISIS chief fled into a tunnel with three of his children and detonated a suicide vest.
In a televised address to the nation from the White House Mr Trump said: “He reached the end of the tunnel as our dogs chased him down.
“He ignited his vest, killing himself and his three children. His body was mutilated by the blasts. The tunnel had caved on him.
“The thug who tried so hard to intimidate others spent his last moments in utter fear, in total panic and dread, terrified of the American forces bearing down on him.”
The president said: “He was a sick and depraved man, and now he’s gone.”
Mr Trump said no US personnel were killed and 11 children were rescued in the operation.
One of the US forces’ dogs was seriously wounded in the operation.
WHO WAS THE ISIS CHIEF?
Al-Baghdadi – whose real name is Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim – is thought to have been born in Samarra, north of Baghdad, in 1971.
Reports suggest he was a cleric in a mosque in the city around the time of the US-led invasion in 2003.
Some believe he was already a militant jihadist during the rule of Saddam Hussein.
Others believe he was radicalised during the four years he was held at Camp Bucca, a US facility in southern Iraq where many al-Qaeda commanders were detained.
In October 2011, the US officially designated Baghdadi as ‘terrorist’ and offered a $10million reward for information leading to his capture or death. This was increased to $25m in 2017.
Baghdadi is credited with transforming the breakaway al-Qaeda group and turning it into the independent ISIS group.
Under his leadership, the group spearheaded a militant offensive that expanded into Syria in 2013 and which later overran much of Iraq’s Sunni Arab heartland.
In July 2014 he climbed the pulpit of Mosul’s medieval al-Nuri mosque in black clerical garb during Friday prayers to announce the creation of the caliphate in areas of Syria and Iraq.
In 2015, he was reportedly severely injured in an airstrike in western Iraq, and he was possibly even killed a few years later according to Russian officials.
He has also been heard in a number of audio messages to followers, including an 18-minute speech given earlier this year.
Mr Trump said watching the raid that killed al-Baghdadi as it was underway felt “as though you were watching a movie.”
He hinted the footage of the raid may be released publicly so the world knows the ISIS ringleader spent his final moments “crying, whimpering and screaming.”
He said the US had al-Baghdadi under surveillance for several weeks.
The president told how those involved in the raid “brought body parts” back with them, even though there “wasn’t much left” of al-Baghdadi’s body.
He said: “They have his DNA. More of it than they want.”
Al-Baghdadi – who had led the murderous cult since 2010 when it was still an underground al-Qaida offshoot in Iraq – had been the subject of an international manhunt for years and had a $25m bounty on his head.
A US official said he had been targeted in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province.
The president had teased a major announcement late on Saturday tweeting that “Something very big has just happened.”
He today thanked Russia, Turkey, Syria and Iraq, as well as Kurdish fighters in Syria for their support.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces confirmed they had been working with the US in the operation.
SDF General Commander Mazloum Abdi took partial credit for the successful operation to kill al-Baghdadi.
In a tweet which tagged in Trump’s account, he thanked the President and the US Army in its efforts
“For five months there has been joint intel cooperation on the ground and accurate monitoring, until we achieved a joint operation to kill Abu Bakir al-Baghdadi,” he said.
“Thanks to everybody who participate in this great mission.”
Abdi said al-Muhajir was killed in a “a continuation of the previous operation” against Baghdadi “in the village of Ayn al-Bayda, near Jarablus, in direct coordination between SDF intelligence and the U.S. military”.
Reacting to the news, Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: “The death of Baghdadi is an important moment in our fight against terror but the battle against the evil of Daesh (ISIS) is not yet over.
“We will work with our coalition partners to bring an end to the murderous, barbaric activities of Daesh once and for all.”
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace added: “The world will not miss al-Baghdadi.”
A senior Iraqi security official said other ISIS leaders were killed in the attack.
It is the most high profile targeted US military strike since the dramatic killing of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011.
Al-Baghdadi came to prominence in 2014, when he announced the creation of a “caliphate” in areas of Iraq and Syria.
The murderous group carried out a number of atrocities that resulted in thousands of deaths.
VICTORY FOR TRUMP
The killing of al-Baghdadi marks a significant foreign policy success for Mr Trump.
It comes after one of the lowest points in his presidency as he is mired in impeachment proceedings and facing widespread Republican condemnation for his Syria policy.
The recent pullback of US troops he ordered from northeastern Syria allowed Turkey to attack America’s Kurdish allies and raised fears that ISIS could regain strength after it had lost vast stretches of territory it had once controlled.
Mr Trump said the raid would not change his decision to withdraw troops from Syria.
US President Barack Obama, second from left, and Vice President Joe Biden, left, along with members of the national security team, during the mission against Osama Bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House on May 1, 2011[/caption]
Osama Bin Laden was the last terror target of such significance taken out by the US military[/caption]
The compound in Pakistan where Navy SEAL forces raided and killed Osama Bin Laden in 2011[/caption]