Al-Baghdadi: Dead

ISIS Leader Dead Following U.S. Raid

by Sebastian Guccione

Staff K9 Unit

On Saturday, October 26th, President Trump tweeted out that “Something very big has just happened!” Curiosity, excitement, and slight panic by some ensued until it was revealed the next day by the President that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, was dead following a U.S Special Forces operation in northwestern Syria. U.S Intelligence had long been trying to capture or kill al-Baghdadi, and he is the most prominent terrorist leader that has died as a result of U.S operations since the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011.

Al-Baghdadi had been under surveillance for multiple weeks preceding the operation. While the actual raid was conducted solely with U.S troops, it was made possible through the cooperation of U.S,  Kurdish, Iraqi, and Turkish intelligence, who worked together to obtain information on the terrorist leader’s frequently changing direction from his close informants. Once U.S troops became confident on the location and details of al-Baghdadi’s compound, they began the raid. 

President Trump remarked that the most dangerous part of the operation was the seventy-minute flight to and from al-Baghdadi’s compound. The eight helicopters that embarked on the flight flew low and were met with local gunfire which they quickly eliminated as they neared the compound. Trump believed this gunfire to be not from any organized group or nation, but rather “people that were shooting that were indiscriminately shooting… we think that these were people that were just random people that don’t like to see helicopters, I guess.”

The president stated that the U.S informed Russia and Turkey prior to the operation that they would be flying over their territories, to which the countries accepted, despite not being told the reason or destination of the flight. The same route was taken both ways, before and after the raid, and, in addition to the low flying helicopters, air support flying high was also present throughout the operation.

Once the U.S Special Forces landed on-site, they began to infiltrate al-Baghdadi’s compound. The front door of the complex was rigged with booby traps, and so the soldiers used explosives to gain entry through the side of the building. Troops remained inside for two hours, during which eleven children and a few adults were removed uninjured. Those who did not surrender and those who attempted to return fire were killed. As the building was cleared, al-Baghdadi fled into a dead-end tunnel with three of his children, all the while being chased by U.S K9 units. Once in the tunnel, al-Baghdadi ignited his suicide vest, killing himself, three of his children, and collapsing the tunnel. 

Al-Baghdadi’s body was mutilated by the blast, though on sight DNA lab technicians were nonetheless able to obtain a DNA sample and confirm a positive match between the man that blew himself up in the tunnel and previously obtained al-Baghdadi DNA.

Trump remarked that U.S troops were able to obtain “highly sensitive information” on ISIS, specifically in regards to their origins and future plans. Trump noted that he decided not to notify Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and other congressional leaders because “Washington leaks like I’ve never seen before… Washington is a leaking machine.” Pelosi responded by stating that “The House must be briefed on this raid, which the Russians but not top Congressional Leadership were notified of in advance, and on the Administration’s overall strategy in the region.  Our military and allies deserve strong, smart and strategic leadership from Washington.”

No U.S troops were killed or injured during the operation, with the exception of a K9 unit, Conan, that chased al-Baghdadi into the dead-end tunnel and was injured by the blast of the terrorist’s suicide vest. Conan was recovered and already has returned to duty.

President Trump has created controversy over his vivid description of the operation. He stated that al-Baghdadi was “screaming, crying and whimpering” in the moments preceding his death. Both Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley were unable to confirm Trump’s descriptions.

ISIS acknowledged the death of al-Baghdadi and already appointed a new leader, by the name of Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi. American intelligence will continue to examine the new structure of ISIS and seek information on its new leader’s past and present roles within the organization, as the War on Terror continues to rage on.


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