Islamic State leader Al-Baghdadi was killed in a mission conducted by US special forces in northwestern Syria, President Trump confirmed on Sunday. Several ISIS fighters were also killed during the raid.
President Trump confirmed al-Baghdadi’s demise on Sunday. Prior to addressing the nation in a speech, Trump had twittered in the early morning hours that “something very big just happened,” without getting into specifics. Nevertheless, the rumours about the raid began to circulate.
According to Trump, eight US helicopters landed at the place where Baghdadi was hiding. The terrorist then fled through a tunnel, before detonating an explosives vest when US special forces circled in on him. The raid itself had been tracked live from the Situation Room in the White House.
Trump has suggested that the footage of the attack should be published to deter al-Baghdadi supporters. The world would learn that Al-Baghdadi spent his last moments “crying, whimpering and screaming”, Trump said, before adding the ISIS leader “died like a dog and coward”. DNA tests of the body were taken and have confirmed the deceased as al-Baghdadi.
Trump also emphasised that Baghdadi had been on the run for years. Now, he was killed under his presidency, while the self-proclaimed IS “caliphate” had been destroyed.
Baghdadi’s whereabouts were said to be unknown. With a bounty of $ 25 million, al-Baghdadi was one of the most wanted terrorists in the world. As such, he appeared only once in public, on July 2014, when he proclaimed the aforementioned “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq.
Most recently, ISIS had published a video in April, which is said to show al-Baghdadi, who had already been called dead several times. In it, he calls on his followers to continue the fight despite the loss of their “caliphate”. In September, the ISIS leader called his supporters in an audio message to release captured fighters and their families.
After the announcement today, the liberal media were quick to condemn Trump’s rather peculiar rhetoric in his statement. One CNN reporter even went so far to label the comments “cruel”. Even on a day, the US is bringing one of the most wanted terrorists to justice; unity cannot prevail – nor can sanity it appears.
The critique from the left now will attempt to draw away the focus of the actual success (i.e. killing al-Baghdadi) towards a bogus claim (i.e. Trump’s rhetoric about al-Baghdadi “dying like a dog” would further encourage ISIS).
Needless to say, this claim is purely of political nature and while Democrats have already been reluctant to give Trump any credit in this matter – which is not a surprise, as it will become a valuable asset in Trump’s election campaign – one should never suggest that terrorists needed to be provoked to commit their appalling atrocities. It is an intellectually flawed proposition and disrespectful to all the victims ISIS has murdered.
Despite the serious nature of these developments, the irony of Trump now celebrating a mission, that was solely based on intelligence, gathered and conducted by a community he has not only been chastising but almost delegitimised by taking Putin’s side over US intelligence agencies, should not go unnoticed.
Nonetheless, Baghdadi’s elimination is Trump’s most important foreign policy success to this point. However, just as bin Laden’s death did not end al-Qaida, ISIS’ egregious ideology will not cease to exist with Baghdadi’s demise.