Below is a truncated version of AP’s article about the death of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The helicopters flew low and fast into the night, ferrying US special forces to a compound where Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was hiding in Syria. Half a world away, US President Donald Trump watched the raid in real time via a video link as troops blasted into the hideout and sent the most-wanted terrorist running the last steps of his life.
Events developed quickly once the White House learned on Thursday there was “a high probability” that al-Baghdadi would be at an Idlib province compound.
Moments after the White House team had gathered, US aircraft, mostly twin-rotor CH-47 helicopters, took off from Al-Asad air base in western Iraq.
Within hours, al-Baghdadi was dead.
Trump said soldiers blasted a hole in the side of a building because they feared the entrance might have been booby-trapped. Al-Baghdadi fled into a network of underground bunkers and tunnels that snaked through the compound.
The stout, bearded militant leader wore a suicide vest and dragged along three children as he fled from the American troops.
Trump, happy to play up the drama, said that as US troops and their dogs closed in, the militant went “whimpering and crying and screaming all the way” to his death.
“He reached the end of the tunnel, as our dogs chased him down,” Trump said. “He ignited his vest, killing himself and the three children.”
It was him
Al-Baghdadi’s body was mutilated in the blast, and the tunnel caved in on him. To get to his corpse, troops had to dig through debris.
“There wasn’t much left,” Trump said, “but there are still substantial pieces that they brought back.”
That’s when the military raid turned into a forensics operation — and the special forces had come prepared.
They had brought along samples of al-Baghdadi’s DNA.
The soldiers who conducted the raid thought the man who fled looked like al-Baghdadi, but that wasn’t enough. Various accounts had heralded his death in the past, only for him to surface yet again.
Lab technicians conducted an onsite DNA test to make sure and within 15 minutes of his death, positively identified the target.
Trump said US troops remained in the compound for about two hours after al-Baghdadi’s death and recovered highly sensitive material about the Islamic State group, including information about its future plans.
After the American troops retreated, US fighter jets fired six rockets at the house, leveling it.
It was a measure of the strained atmosphere in Washington that two top Democrats — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Adam Schiff, who heads the House intelligence committee — didn’t get a heads-up from Trump about the operation.
“Washington is a leaking machine,” Trump said. In this case, he said, “there were no leaks, no nothing. The only people that knew were the few people that I dealt with.”
The reveal: The biggest
Trump chose the Diplomatic Room to make his big announcement on Sunday.
In announcing al-Baghdadi’s death, he leaned into comparing the successful operation with the 2011 mission to kill 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.
While bin Laden orchestrated the deadliest militant attack in US history, the killing of al-Baghdadi — who helped the IS group at its height control more than 34,000 square miles of territory in Iraq and Syria — was “the biggest there is,” Trump said.
Reveling in the moment, Trump spent more than 45 minutes speaking and taking questions about the raid.
By late Sunday afternoon, Trump’s reelection campaign was ready to turn the raid into political capital. It sent a text to supporters that said, “Trump has brought the #1 terrorist leader to justice-he’s KEEPING AMERICA SAFE.”
Not everyone believes the official narrative…Perhaps Bin Laden and Baghdadi are actually room mates living in a fancy hotel somewhere:
OPINION: Veteran Arab journalist Abdel Bari Atwan says there are good reasons to doubt Donald Trump’s account of his latest “triumph’ – the alleged killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. #Baghdadi #Bagdadi https://t.co/52gyKiWtG9
— 5Pillars (@5Pillarsuk) October 28, 2019