On Oct. 26, ISIS leader and longtime target of the United States, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, committed suicide during a U.S. raid against him in Syria.
According to an article by the Department of Defense, General Frank McKenzie, the leader of the U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM), claimed that once intelligence had secured information on his whereabouts, special operation forces were flown in by helicopter to a compound in the province of Idlib, Syria. The special forces were met with gunfire from militants believed not to be ISIS members. In response, two airstrikes were launched against the militants, killing them immediately.
Once the militants were subdued, the special forces called out for those inside the compound to emerge and surrender. 11 children emerged, however, NPR reported that five ISIS militants(four women and one man) who did not heed the call for surrender were killed. Al-Baghdadi fled from the troops into a tunnel within the compound with two children. There, he set off his suicide vest, killing himself and the children.
U.S. forces confirmed that the remains belonged to al-Baghdadi through DNA analysis and they were subsequently interred in the sea. According to McKenzie, after the special forces withdrew from the area, the compound was then obliterated to “ensure that it would not be a shrine or otherwise memorable in any way”.
In an official announcement from the White House, President Trump reported that al-Baghdadi was “whimpering and crying”, and that he “spent his last moments in utter fear, in total panic and dread, terrified of the American forces bearing down on him.”
As reported by CNN, Trump’s account of the mission has not been confirmed by other officials like Secretary of Defense Mark Esper or Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley. It was also not substantiated by McKenzie’s Politico notes. Although, Esper believes that the “president probably had the opportunity to talk to some of the commanders on the ground” and hence was able to receive this information.
Fortunately, no U.S. troops died, but a military dog named Conan was injured. Fox News has reported that Conan has been in recovery and is set to meet with Trump in the White House.
McKenzie commended the raid and said, “this operation was exquisitely planned and executed. It demonstrates the United States’ global reach and our unwavering commitment to destroy ISIS.”.
Likewise, a QC political science major who preferred to remain anonymous said, “I’m so thankful to the U.S. forces for capturing the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. I read in the Wall Street Journal that Baghdadi was last seen in April of this year. That really shows how incredible US intelligence and forces are; they were able to successfully carry out this operation even though Baghdadi was so undercover”.
Additionally, she added, “Even though people might not like Trump or support everything he says or does, everyone should show their appreciation and applaud him for this mission. It shouldn’t be political. Just like when Osama Bin Laden was killed, and those on the right and left joined together in happiness and relief, we should all unite now. The world is a safer place and Trump should be applauded”.
The success of the raid comes at the heels of Trump’s recent decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. Fox News reported that the move, which had received criticism from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, caused concern that ISIS would “regain strength” in the region .
Additionally, the withdrawal of troops is being seen as betrayal toward the Kurdish members of the Syrian Democratic Forces(SDF) who partnered with the U.S. in 2014 when ISIS was taking over territory in Syria and Iraq. The New York Times reports that the SDF also aided the U.S. by providing intelligence on al-Bhagdadi.
Since the mission, ISIS has affirmed the death of al-Baghdadi and the terrorist organization has installed a new successor by the name of Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi.