Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, who had a $25 million US bounty on his head, killed himself during a US military operation in Syria, President Donald Trump has said.
“Last night, the United States brought the world’s number one terrorist leader to justice,” Trump announced at a press conference at the White House on Sunday morning. “Abu Bakr Baghdadi is dead.”
After watching the video feed of the operation in the White House Situation Room, Trump said that during the raid Al-Baghdadi ran into a tunnel in the village of Barisha and detonated a suicide vest killing himself and three of his children.
“He was a sick and depraved man, and now he’s gone. He died like a dog, he died like a coward,” the president said.
He was “whimpering, crying and screaming all the way.”
“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.”
He described the footage as “something really amazing to see” and “as though you were watching a movie.”
However, a report in the New York Times raises questions over Trump’s description of Al-Baghdadi’s final moments, given that audio did not accompany the overhead surveillance footage and that the cameras would not have been able to capture the inside of the tunnel where Al-Baghdadi died.
It was originally announced that Al-Baghdadi was targeted in an overnight raid – over the weekend Trump tweeted: “Something very big has just happened!”
The US received intelligence on Al-Baghdadi’s position two weeks ago through a senior aide to the Daesh commander, Ismail Al-Ithawi.
Al-Ithawi revealed that Al-Baghdadi held strategic talks with commanders inside minibuses loaded with vegetables to avoid being detected.
He also gave up details of five men Al-Baghdadi used to meet with and the locations of these meetings.