ISIS leader dead after U.S. raid in Syria

By Ian Krietzberg
Staff Writer

In a news conference Oct. 27, President Donald Trump announced the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, according to NBC News. 

The president announces al-Baghdadi’s death (YouTube).

Al-Baghdadi, the world’s most wanted terrorist leader, had been in hiding in northwestern Syria when the U.S. raid began just after 5 p.m. on Oct. 26. At 7:15 p.m. that same night, U.S. special operations forces declared “‘jackpot’” as the raid killed six enemy fighters, while 11 children were “turned over to a ‘responsible’ party that had been identified,” according to CNN.

“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,” Trump said in his first public statement about the matter on Oct. 27.

The success came three weeks after Trump ordered U.S. troops to withdraw from Syria, a move that intelligence officials say disrupted the operation, according to The New York Times. The decision also forced U.S. troops to carry out the raid before the withdrawal was complete. 

CIA officials began planning for the raid during the summer, when they acquired information from the interrogation of one of al-Baghdadi’s wives that he was residing in a northwestern Syrian village, according to The New York Times. 

“‘The irony of the successful operation against al-Baghdadi is that it could not have happened without U.S. forces on the ground that have been pulled out, help from Syrian Kurds who have been betrayed, and support of a U.S. intelligence community that has so often been disparaged,’” Richard Haas, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, told The New York Times.

Trump has spoken out against the intelligence community various times, starting with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to The Wall Street Journal. 

“The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran,” Trump tweeted in January, according to The Wall Street Journal. “Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!”

In addition, with the impeachment investigation continuing to escalate, Trump admitted that he did not inform Congress of the raid in advance, according to CNN. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded in a statement, saying that “Russians but not top Congressional Leadership” were told in advance. 

In her statement, Pelosi also said that, although the leader of ISIS is dead, the organization is not.

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