Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Inside the Mission That Killed Islamic State Leader Baghdadi

Photo: omar haj kadour/AFP/Getty Images
The chopping of blades from eight U.S. military helicopters roused startled residents in northwestern Syria around midnight Saturday, an unusual sound for an area close to the relative quiet of the Turkish border.
Exchanges of gunfire followed for the next several hours until a war plane delivered the final airstrikes, witnesses said. Then, back in Washington, President Trump tweeted: “Something very big has just happened!”
It soon became apparent, as Mr. Trump confirmed Sunday morning, that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Islamic State, was dead.
The story of Baghdadi’s final moments is also one of American intelligence gathering, military force and astonishing warfare technology. The special operations forces who landed in Barisha, Syria, already knew the tunnels under Baghdadi’s compound were mostly dead-ends. Troops brought robotic military equipment to help chase him through the tunnels, but didn’t need it, the president said. And Mr. Trump said he and his national security team watched much of the evening unfold via video streamed into the White House Situation Room.
The hunt for Baghdadi has been an American national security priority ever since the U.S. and its mainly Kurdish allies captured the militants’ last desert holdout in eastern Syria in March.
One former member of Islamic State who was held at a counterterrorism prison in northern Syria told The Wall Street Journal earlier this year that, while incarcerated, he was interrogated by Americans and asked about the whereabouts of senior commanders, including Baghdadi. The 18-year-old former fighter said he didn’t know the leader’s whereabouts but that other prisoners were asked the same questions.
During the past few weeks, U.S. officials said, the search came into sharper focus as intelligence revealed Baghdadi’s location. “We had him scoped,” Mr. Trump said.
The president said the U.S. relied mostly on its own intelligence to find the ideological leader of Islamic State. “We didn’t need very much help,” he said.
Photo: /Associated Press
But an official in the Iraqi National Intelligence Service said the agency had provided the U.S. with the coordinates of Baghdadi’s location based information gathered from captured associates of Baghdadi’s. Turkish and Kurdish military leaders also said they had intelligence concerning Baghdadi.
U.S. officials wouldn’t say how much the influx of intelligence helped, but lawmakers praised the cooperation. “We can never do this stuff alone—we have to have allies and friends,” said Rep. Mac Thornberry (R., Texas) a member of the House Armed Services Committee.
Read the rest from the WSJ HERE.

If you like what you see, please "Like" us on Facebook either here or here. Please follow us on Twitter here.

No comments: