Leader Of ISIS Believed Killed In Raid In Syria

There's apparently big news in the fight against ISIS.

A raid in northwestern Syria has reportedly resulted in the death of the spiritual leader of ISIS, who has been in hiding since the Islamic State itself essentially ceased to exist last year:

The Trump administration launched a military operation in Syria targeting Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the elusive leader of the Islamic State, officials said late Saturday. 

Special Operations forces conducted a raid in northwest Syria’s Idlib province aimed at the militant leader, officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss activities that have not yet been made public. It was not clear whether Baghdadi, who managed to evade a prolonged U.S. and allied campaign to locate him, was killed in the operation, they said. 

Late Saturday, the White House said President Trump would make a “major announcement” at 9 a.m. Sunday. “Something very big has just happened!” the president tweeted

The operation targeting Baghdadi was first reported by Newsweek. The Defense Department did not respond to requests for comment.

If confirmed, Baghdadi’s death would bring a dramatic end to a years-long hunt for the man who spearheaded the Islamic State’s transformation from an underground insurgent band to a powerful quasi-state that straddled two countries and spawned copycat movements across continents.

A former university professor who was once held in a U.S.-run prison in Iraq, Baghdadi has been erroneously reported killed or wounded multiple times. 

One official said that, during the operation, an individual believed to be the militant leader appeared to have detonated an explosive vest and killed himself. Officials said they were now seeking to verify whether that person was in fact Baghdadi. 

Gen. Mazloum Abdi, commander of the Syrian Kurdish forces that have long partnered with the United States in the fight against the Islamic State appeared to suggest on Sunday morning that his group was involved in the operation.

Successful historical operation as a result of joint intelligence work with the United States of America,” he tweeted, without elaborating.

The group’s spokesman, Mustafa Bali, followed up in a tweet of his own explicitly stating its involvement.

“Successful and effective operation by our forces is yet another proof of SDF’s anti-terror capability. We continue to work with our partners in the global @coalition in the fight against ISIS terrorism.”

Iraq’s state-run Iraqiyah TV channel broadcast footage of what it called the aftermath of the attack, showing a rocky area marked by a crater and a pile of clothes on the ground, as well as a distant nighttime blast it said was the attack itself.

The Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate, which at its largest stretched across much of Iraq and Syria, has been largely destroyed following years of assaults by U.S., Syrian, Iraqi, European and other forces. But officials believe that the organization remains a formidable threat determined to regain strength.

While Baghdadi, a native of the Iraqi city of Samarra believed to be in his mid-40s, has remained a reclusive figure even to his followers, he urged militants in an audio message issued last month to conduct attacks against security forces and to attempt to break imprisoned brethren out of jail.

(…)

Turkey’s Defense Ministry said Ankara and Washington’s respective military authorities coordinated and exchanged information prior to the U.S. operation in Idlib overnight.

According to Javed Ali, a former White House senior director for counterterrorism, the death of Baghdadi would be a “huge blow.” But, like the killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by U.S. forces in 2011, it “will not lead to strategic defeat,” he said. Ali noted that ISIS has proved resilient despite the physical loss of its caliphate. “That’s something we learned in the aftermath of the bin Laden raid,” another high-risk mission.

The raid targeting Baghdadi took place outside of the area where the U.S. military, which began airstrikes on Islamic State positions in Syria in 2014 and established a ground mission the following year, has focused its campaign in recent years. But there have been occasional U.S. attacks on militant targets in Idlib, including an airstrike last month. 

The New York Times is similarly non-committal on reporting if it is in fact al-Baghdadi who was killed. CNN, though, seems to be leaning toward the side of effectively confirming it is without officially doing so:

ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is believed to have been killed in a raid conducted by the US military in northwest Syria on Saturday, according to a senior US defense official and a source with knowledge. The final confirmation is pending while DNA and biometric testing is conducted, both sources tell CNN.

The defense official said it appears that Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest during the raid.

The raid was carried out by special operations commandos, a source familiar with the operation told CNN.

The CIA assisted in locating the ISIS leader, the defense official said. Iraqi forces also gave “important information” in the operation, Maj. Gen. Tahseen al-Khafaji, a spokesperson for the Iraqi Joint Operations told CNN.

The Kurdish-lead Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) tweeted that there was a “successful” joint operation with the US — but did not specifically name what that operation was or give any further details.”Successful & historical operation due to joint intelligence work with the United States of America,” Mazloum Abdi, SDF General Commander tweeted Sunday.

Newsweek first reported that Baghdadi was believed to have been killed.

President Donald Trump is scheduled to make a major announcement Sunday at 9 a.m., White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley announced. An administration official tells CNN that the announcement is foreign policy related.

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

White House officials were at the White House late Saturday evening in preparation for an announcement. One official told CNN it would be held in the Diplomatic Reception Room.

Trump stoked speculation when he tweeted Saturday evening “something very big has just happened!”

Fox News National Security Correspondent Jennifer Griffin, reported on Twitter that facial recognition appears to have positively identified al-Baghdadi, but that DNA testing will take up to a day to get back as well as operational information about the raid, which apparently included elements of the Army Rangers and Delta Force along with some form of support from Kurdish forces:

It has not been officially confirmed that the person who died in the raid was al-Baghdadi, although military officials are apparently telling reporters that there is “a high degree of confidence” that it is him. As with the death of Osama bin Laden in a raid in May 2011, that will have to await further forensic testing and, if possible DNA testing. In bin Laden’s case, the United States was able to confirm the identity of bin Laden’s corpse both through visual observation and through DNA tests made possible by other cooperation from other members of the bin Laden family It’s not known if American military or intelligence sources have DNA samples to compare in this case, nor is it clear what other means of identification they might have, or how long it will take to confirm his identity. It’s also worth noting Baghdadi has been believed dead, or badly and even mortally injured several times in the past. Those reports though followed bombing raids at locations where he was believed to be present and there was no way of verifying his death. This time, we have a body so confirmation should be easier. President Trump is scheduled to speak at 9:00 a.m. this morning from the White House, though, and perhaps we’ll learn more then.

Trump will take credit for the death of the spiritual leader of ISIS and since it happened under his watch he’s entitled to do so just as Obama took credit for bin Laden’s death. What is ironic is the fact that the raid was apparently made possible based on intelligence developed by the Central Intelligence Agency, part of the so-called “Deep State” that Trump claims have conspired to undermine his Presidency. It’s also interesting to note that Kurdish forces were involved in the raid, especially given the fact that Trump stabbed the Kurds in the back with the withdrawal from northeastern Syria. (The raid took place in northwestern Syria near the border with Turkey,)

It’s unclear that Baghdadi’s death will have a big impact on ISIS. As noted Baghdadi was more a spiritual leader than a military or operational leader so his death may not mean much for whatever effectiveness the organization still has. Indeed, the manner in which he apparently died may result in him becoming a martyr reenergizing the group. Addiitionally, ISIS has become as much an ideology as a movement centrally controlled by Baghdadi or anyone else. It has “affiliates” that have pledged support to the group in areas as geographically diverse as Yemen, Afghanistan, Libya, and Central Africa, If this is Baghdadi, though, that’s admittedly a big win in the fight against ISIS. What impact it will have going forward is something only the future can tell.

Update: President Trump confirmed al-Baghdadi’s death in his statement this morning:

U.S. special operations forces killed the Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a raid in northwestern Syria, President Donald Trump announced today from the White House.

The self-declared caliph of ISIS detonated a suicide vest, killing himself and three children after he was cornered in a tunnel. “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.” No U.S. personnel were lost in the raid, Trump said.

“Baghdadi’s demise demonstrates America’s relentless pursuit of terrorist leaders and our commitment to the enduring and total defeat of ISIS and other terrorist organizations,” he said.

The death of Baghdadi, long considered the most wanted man in the world, came amid weeks of acrimonious debate in Washington about the U.S. role in Syria after Trump’s efforts to remove troops from the region.The abrupt withdrawal allowed scores of ISIS prisoners to escape and could allow the rebirth of an Islamic State sanctuary.

The raid was launched from Iraqi territory. “This raid was impeccable and could only have taken place with the acknowledgment and help of certain other nations and people,” he said. “I want to thank the nations of Russia, Syria, Turkey, and Iraq, and I also want to thank the Syrian Kurds for certain support they were able to give us.

After years of rare and unconfirmed sightings, Baghdadi resurfaced in an unverified video in April, rallying his followers in Iraq and Syria following the group’s loss of its so-called caliphate.

The U.S. had placed a $25 million bounty on the ISIS leader’s head.

(…)

Trump used unusually vivid, even gory, language in describing al-Baghdadi’s final moments — words that some regional experts feared could anger Islamist extremists in the region even more.

The terrorist leader was “crying, whimpering and screaming” as he ran with three children into a dead-end tunnel, Trump said. Baghdadi ignited a suicide vest that killed him and the children, and it collapsed the tunnel. A DNA test confirmed Baghdadi’s identity, Trump added.

Trump likened Baghdadi to a “dog.” U.S. canines helped hunt him down, the president said.

“He was a sick and depraved man, and now he’s gone,” Trump said, adding at one point that he would support making public Baghdadi’s final moments.

Dana Shell Smith, a former U.S. ambassador to Qatar, warned that being so descriptive could backfire by stoking more anger toward the United States.

She pointed out that former President Barack Obama was far more careful in describing al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden’s killing. The Obama administration even pointed out that it gave bin Laden’s body an Islamic funeral ritual before slipping it into the ocean.

“It was important for our relationships in the region and safety of our military and diplomats,” the former ambassador wrote on Twitter. “It’s how America rolls. With honor. We don’t delight in death like the terrorists do

Here’s the video of the statement:

FILED UNDER: National Security, Syria, Terrorism, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The withdrawal of US forces from Syria was all just a part of trump’s genius strategy to bring Baghdadi out of hiding and it worked like a charm. Take that, Libtards!

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  2. The removal of forces was from northeastern Syria, in the area where Turkey is setting up its safe zone.

    This raid was carried out in northwestern Syria and was carried out by U.S. Special Forces — Rangers and Delta Force — who probably weren’t based in Syria at all.

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  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I think your sarcasm meter needs recalibration, Doug.

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  4. I recognized you were being sarcastic.

    I added the information mostly as a supplement to the post.

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  5. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Cult45 is saying what you said, only they’re serious.

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  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Good, you had me a little worried. 😉

    @CSK: I was trying to beat them to the punch. I should’ve known it was an effort made in vain.

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  7. Teve says:

    Paul Waldman
    @paulwaldman1
    ·
    9h
    If the Baghdadi rumor is true, I guarantee you that at his press conference Trump will:

    1) Say “I got him” or “I killed him”
    2) Say “Obama couldn’t get him, but I did”

    I’d also put the odds of “I think I could have gone in with the SEALS, to tell you the truth” at 60%

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  8. CSK says:

    @Teve: Oh, absolutely Trump is going to brag about how only he, and he alone, could have accomplished this. After all, he singlehandedly defeated ISIS, didn’t he?

    It’s because he knows more than the generals, given that he watches “the shows.”

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  9. Guarneri says:

    Trump and Obama will/did both take credit for political reasons. They are politicians. However, the real credit goes to the armed forces. Trump and Obama’s input was taking the political risk of a failed mission, such as it was.

    The value is mostly symbolic, but that is not to be underestimated. That matters.

    This is simply illogical:

    “What is ironic is the fact that the raid was apparently made possible based on intelligence developed by the Central Intelligence Agency, part of the so-called “Deep State” that Trump claims have conspired to undermine his Presidency.”

    The commenters are, as always, petty.

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  10. @Guarneri:

    The truth hurts, eh?

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  11. CSK says:

    Well, I listened to it. It was better than I expected. The speech was clearly written by someone else.

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  12. @CSK:

    As has been the case for nearly all Presidential speeches for the past 40 years or more.

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  13. Nickel Front says:

    Kurdish forces were involved in the raid, especially given the fact that Trump stabbed the Kurds in the back with the withdrawal from northeastern Syria

    You know, there’s always the possibility that you’re just wrong about things.

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  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Guarneri: “Hello Pot, I’m Kettle. You’re black.”

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  15. Nickel Front says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    As has been the case for nearly all Presidential speeches for the past 40 years or more.

    Except for Obama, who was a better speech writer than his speech writers.

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  16. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Nickel Front:
    I’m sure your specific and detailed explanation of just how he’s wrong will make great reading. Proceed.

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  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Nickel Front: You know, there’s always the possibility that you ignore simple facts.

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  18. CSK says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Yes, but the divergence between the way previous presidents gave speeches and spoke off the cuff is not nearly as wide as it is with Trump.

    And Trump is known for disregarding/dismissing the product of his speechwriters.

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  19. @Nickel Front:

    Trump just confirmed that the Kurds were involved.

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  20. @CSK:

    I don’t disagree with that.

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  21. EddieInCA says:

    @Guarneri:

    I’m breaking my rule to comment to you. But you’re a lying POS. Here’s Trump on Dec. 8, 2011:

    BLITZER: He killed bin Laden.

    TRUMP: He didn’t kill bin Laden. You know, he gets so much credit for that. OK, excuse me. Excuse me. The military — the military and the genius — excuse. Guts. You’re sitting in the White House, they come to you and here’s the question. We can take him out — we have him. You’re the president. We can take him out with a missile or we can go get him.

    Now the third thing is leave him alone, and nobody — only a very stupid person would say that. So we can take him out with a missile; we can — either way. Either way, it’s OK. All right? Either way, it’s OK. So he said, all right, let’s go get him. Why does he get so much credit? You know, they give him credit for that. He shouldn’t get so much credit. He happened to be sitting in that…

    (CROSSTALK)

    BLITZER: (Inaudible).

    TRUMP: Excuse me.

    BLITZER: You remember Jimmy Carter — and Jimmy Carter was…

    TRUMP: Jimmy Carter was incompetent. Look, look, very nicely, we can take him out with a missile or we can pick him up. He’s sitting in the White House. These military guys who were there long before he was there, they found him. Now the bad news is, Pakistan should have told us those years before, because they knew exactly where he was. He’s sitting right next to one of the major military bases.

    So, I mean, for them not to have told us is very insulting. But I don’t know why Obama gets credit for the whole bin Laden thing. He’s sitting there. He’s got three choices, leave him alone — which nobody would do — take him out with a missile, or take him out with the military. So he said him out with the military. OK. Congratulations.

    BLITZER: If it would have failed, it would have been a…

    TRUMP: The ones who should get the — no, it wouldn’t have been a disaster. It could have failed, but he didn’t — he’s not the one that made it…

    Remember that when Trump is taking credit for “killing Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi”. But you won’t call him out, because you’re a lying sycophant.

    http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/2011/12/08/trump-on-pres-obama-he-didnt-kill-bin-laden-he-gets-so-much-credit-for-that/

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  22. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Isn’t this, like, the third time Baghdadi has been killed?

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  23. @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Except this time we have the body. He was apparently identified via biometrics pending DNA test results.

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  24. I’ve posted an update covering the President’s announcement of al-Baghdadi’s death.

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  25. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Trump just confirmed that the Kurds were involved.

    Apparently the Kurds have been providing intel for months, that ultimately led to Baghdadi.
    So they were helping us as Trump greenlit the Turkish operation to slaughter them.
    Trump in 2012:

    Stop congratulating Obama for killing Bin Laden. The Navy Seals killed Bin Laden.

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  26. Jay L Gischer says:

    So. I know what bin Laden did, and why we were after him. I mean, quite specifically. He funded a bunch of stuff. He hand picked the people who executed 9/11. He was quite a bit more than a “spiritual leader”.

    What is Bagdahdi’s record? Is he a guy who sits around and preaches that certain people are evil and should be exterminated, but does nothing about it? That puts him on a level with Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church.

    I mean, I don’t pay that much attention, but I’m better informed than the average guy off the street, and I’ve never heard of this dude. I’m not being sarcastic, I really would like you all to educate me on why he’s important.

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  27. EddieInCA says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    I mean, I don’t pay that much attention, but I’m better informed than the average guy off the street, and I’ve never heard of this dude. I’m not being sarcastic, I really would like you all to educate me on why he’s important.

    He’s was to ISIS what Bin Laden was to Al Qaeda. He’s the one who proclaimed the desire to build a Caliphate in the mideast. He’s the one who inspired and recruited. Getting him was a big deal. Unfortunately, the actions of the idiot in chief lessen the capture, just because Trump can’t be at all Presidential. Imagine if he gave a speech bringing people together, under the auspices of a major terrorist killed and making American’s safer.

    Also, unfortunately, given how many hardened ISIS fighters have been released recently, it’s just a matter of time before a new head of ISIS steps up. Our problems with ISIS aren’t going away.

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  28. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Getting him was a big deal.

    It is, in the short run. Someone will replace him in time.
    Trump has done much more damage in the long run, by throwing our allies to the slaughter.
    We are safer because this one bad guy is dead, but we are less safe by Trump abandoning our allies. So, if anything, this is a wash on Trump’s part.
    And I suspect his taunting of ISIS, by describing Baghdadi as crying and whimpering (project much?), is not helpful.

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  29. Jay L Gischer says:

    @EddieInCA: Ok. But what operations did ISIS carry out against the United States? It’s one thing to be inspiring people to violence (thus my reference to Fred Phelps) and quite another to hold command, to plan, and pay for an operation.

    There’s a famous character from San Francisco’s history known as Emperor Norton, who styled himself the Emperor of San Francisco. Nobody thought that was worthy of the death penalty. I would prefer to reserve that for people who have done things that hurt us, or our allies, or innocents. And yeah, ISIS has done that in Syria and elsewhere in the region, but have they done it to us, and was Bagdahdi involved? Again, that may be true, and I may just be ignorant.

    But as yet, he has not cleared the “important enough for a targeted assassination mission” bar in my mind. Killing religious guys who are non-combatants probably heightens the conflict, rather than reducing it.

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  30. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    The raid, as reported, took place at 3:30 Washington time.
    The Presidents schedule for Saturday had him playing golf…he left his country club in VA at 3:33 Washington time.
    https://trumpgolfcount.com/displayoutings
    The posed situation room photo was time-dated at 5:05 Washington time.
    HE WAS PLAYING FUQING GOLF AT THE TIME OF THE RAID!!!

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  31. Teve says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I’d rather have him playing golf. If he’d micromanaged the raid all our troops would be dead and we would owe Isis Wisconsin or something

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  32. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    The motorcade arrived back at the WH at 4:18.

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  33. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Guarneri:

    This is simply illogical:

    “What is ironic is the fact that the raid was apparently made possible based on intelligence developed by the Central Intelligence Agency, part of the so-called “Deep State” that Trump claims have conspired to undermine his Presidency.”

    Oh? How so? Please do explain the illogic.

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  34. Nickel Front says:

    @Doug Mataconis: they also credited Trump with the cease fire.
    So, maybe saying they were “stabbed in the back” is more of a Left/Never Trumper talking point than fact.

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  35. @Nickel Front:

    There never was a cease fire. It was a surrender by Americans to the Turks, Syrians, and Russians the price of which was guaranteeing the removal of the Syrians from northeast Syria. We stabbed them in the back and then turned around and stabbed them in the front.

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  36. @Nickel Front:

    And if it wasn’t a stab in the back then why were Kurds throwing vegetables and rocks at American forces as we vacated the area with our tail between our legs?

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  37. @Jay L Gischer:

    The attack in San Bernadino and the nightclub attack in Orlando were both apparently at least inspired by ISIS

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  38. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Nickel Front:
    Right. That’s why Kurds were throwing rotten fruit at American soldiers and holding up signs calling them cowards as our guys were forced by their treasonous ‘president’ to flee and make room for Putin (who else?), the Iranians and Turkish genocide. See, when the Kurds were calling us backstabbing cowards, what they really meant was all praise to Trump and MAGA!

    Delusional much?

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  39. Jax says:

    I see Russia issued a statement that casts doubt on the whole raid. That’s gotta be a shot to the heart for Trumpie, his boyfriend is denying his heroism!

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  40. MarkedMan says:

    According to the Washington Post, Trump informed Putin ahead of the raid, but kept it from Congress.

    @Jax, do you have a source for that?

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  41. Teve says:

    Not only was he playing golf, the White House then released fake photos of trump and generals in the situation room.

    this is just embarrassing.

    I haven’t done professional photography in over 20 years but I could have faked a better picture than that.

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  42. Fortunato says:

    Moments ago, NYT article titled:
    Tip on Al-Baghdadi’s Location Came After Arrest of a Wife and a Courier

    ..But Mr. Trump’s abrupt decision to withdraw American forces from northern Syria disrupted the meticulous planning and forced Pentagon officials to press ahead with a risky, night raid before their ability to control troops and spies and reconnaissance aircraft disappeared, according to military, intelligence and counterterrorism officials. Mr. al-Baghdadi’s death, they said, occurred largely in spite of Mr. Trump’s actions.

    The officials praised the Kurds, who continued to provide information to the C.I.A. on Mr. al-Baghdadi even after Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw the American troops left the Syrian Kurds to confront a Turkish offensive alone. The Syrian and Iraqi Kurds, one official said, provided more intelligence for the raid than any single country.

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  43. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Nickel Front: Yes, he was. Thanks for giving the Black man his due. You should try it more often.

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  44. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    According to the latest reporting from the NY Times…I was dead wrong with this comment.
    The timeline has changed with further reporting.
    It’s important to acknowledge when you are wrong.
    Apologies.

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  45. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Not to mention an attack in Texas where both of the shooters attempted an attack at a Prophet Mohammed drawing contest and were killed by security and a stabbing attack in Chicago where the attacker was killed.

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  46. Teve says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: The timeline has changed.

    But that’s still a fake photograph.

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  47. Gustopher says:

    This would be much better news if we had not just handed ISIS a huge opportunity by withdrawing and letting the Turks slaughter the Kurds. We’ve created the conditions for someone else to rise to replace him pretty easily.

    Much like we created the conditions that radicalized al-Baghdadi in the first place, and caused him to join up with al-Zawqari.

    But, it’s good he’s dead.

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  48. Gustopher says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I’ve posted an update covering the President’s announcement of al-Baghdadi’s death.

    That was a terrible speech. And, he really has trouble reading the teleprompter, so that didn’t help. But, eesh.

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  49. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Baghdadi cannot be replaced. His eloquence skill in linking ISIS ideology with the Quran combined with his marketing tactic (pirated from Mexican Cartels) was unmatched at the primary reason ISIS was able to Co-opt so many laypeople, foreign fighters, and governance experts from Europe to actually acquire land and administer it. This was Bin Ladens wet dream which he believed would happen “someday” Baghdadi made it happen in the present. Unless they have a person of similar clerical training, organizational skills, and psychological training…. ISIS will pull back into the pack with other Jihadists groups.

    He was the Steve Jobs of the organization and the movement to have a physical caliphate. ISIS adherents are some of the most devoted followers of any jihadist ideology. That wont change….what can and hopefully will change is they will no longer have a leader that provides an on ramp to the mainstream clerical class or Muslim layperson

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  50. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Gustopher: We did not create any such conditions. These people were radical thinkers who saw in the Quran the mandate that Islam and Muslims (and particularly their version of Islam and good Muslims) dominate the regional and later global order.

    So to the extent that the Middle East and the world isn’t dominated by Sunni Wahabis…those are the conditions shaping there views. These people are not typically muslims who view their Islamic identity through the lens of personal spirituality. They view Islam through a lens of geopolitical power projection.

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  51. Gustopher says:

    @Teve: Why is no one in that photo shouting “Idiot, get out of the way, we can’t see anything!”?

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  52. Gustopher says:

    @Jim Brown 32: We held al-Baghdadi in prison after the Iraq war, where he was radicalized. And we created the power vacuum in Iraq that allowed al Qaeda to be able to get a foothold there. Those are the conditions we created.

    al-Zarqawi was somewhat too extreme even for al Qaeda, and our newly radicalized al-Baghdadi was able to tie it all into scriptures and make it more acceptable to semi-moderate clerics — in part because he spoke their language, having been a moderate a few years previously.

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  53. CSK says:

    @Teve: It’s possible it was staged by Trump so he’d look tough and manly and in charge. I can hear him now ordering “his generals” to cooperate.

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  54. Michael Reynolds says:

    Ever notice how we are all pretty good about responding to each other? When someone challenges a datapoint or an analysis, we engage and bat the matter back and forth. All of us do that.

    All of us except the Trumpaloons among us.

    Why? Because Hannity only gave them a one-line attack, and as soon as they’ve regurgitated it they are subjected to what Hannity never is: opposing points of view. Fox and Zero Hedge and Breitbart never have more than a veneer of an argument because they know full well a veneer is all that’s required by their brainless audience.

    The eager Trumpaloon trots his paper-thin rationale out before the wider world and the wider world burns it to ashes without the Trumpaloon even daring to offer a counterargument. Cuz they got no counterargument. Cuz they stoopid.

    In tennis terms the Trumpaloon fires off a slow, wobbly serve and a whole platoon of Serena’s slams it back in their teeth. Again and again and again. And yet it never occurs to them that maybe their serve isn’t very good.

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  55. Jax says:

    @MarkedMan: It’s about halfway down.

    https://www.cnn.com/politics/live-news/abu-bakr-al-baghdadi-isis-intl-hnk/index.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+rss%2Fcnn_topstories+%28RSS%3A+CNN+-+Top+Stories%29

    Russian military questions US account of raid that killed ISIS leader
    From CNN’s Nathan Hodge and Mary Ilyushina

    The Russian military on Sunday questioned the official US account of the military raid that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, saying it was not aware of any US military operations in the region.

    In a statement, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said the Russian military “does not have reliable information” on a US Special Operations raid in Syria’s Idlib province, adding: “The increasing number of direct participants and countries that allegedly took part in this ‘operation,’ each one giving completely contradictory details, raises legitimate questions and doubts about its existence and especially the level of its success.”

    In a statement that followed the raid, President Trump thanked Russia for its assistance, as well as Turkey, Syria, Iraq and the Syrian Kurds.

    Russia maintains a major base in Syria at Latakia. Konashenkov said, however, that the Russian military had observed no strikes by US aircraft in the region.

    “Firstly, on Saturday and in recent days no air strikes were made on the Idlib de-escalation zone by US aircraft or the so-called ‘international coalition’ were recorded,” Konashenkov said. “Secondly, we are not aware of any alleged assistance to the passage of American aviation into the airspace of the Idlib de-escalation zone during this operation.”

    Konashenkov argued in his statement that Syrian government backed by Russian air power had defeated ISIS, saying that al-Baghdadi’s death “has absolutely no operational significance on the situation in Syria or on the actions of the remaining terrorists in Idlib.”

    Russia, which backs the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has long argued that the US military has no legal basis to operate in Syria.

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  56. Teve says:

    @Gustopher: The guy on the far left is thinking about the life choices that led him here. 🙂 😀 😛

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  57. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Gustopher: That’s the fable Al Qaeda, and ISIS wants to tell about themselves. Al Qaeda is a transnational terrorist organization. They had enough foothold in Afghanistan, Northern Africa, and Saudi Arabia to raise funds and plan external operations…to raise more money. They didn’t need additional footholds anywhere else to achieve those ends. What the power vacuum did in Iraq..was allow the Shia powerbase in Iran to gain a foothold. Frankly, in terms of best of bad options, this is a better outcome. You should reference the distinction in Sunni / Shia as you would Protestant/ Catholic. The Shia are more hierarchical, orderly, and less tribal. They provide a more executable blend of theology and governance that could scale to a national scale. The Sunnis, on the other hand are less practical, more ideological, and tribal. Look at the 100 year history of Iran and Saudi Arabia and you’ll have most of the takeaway you need to understand which method produces a better society for it’s people.

    Where do the wahhabis that form the al Qaedas and ISIS groups fit in? They are essentially Sunni end-time eschatology groups… not different than the Hal Lindsey “Left Behind” Christian groups here in America. The Shia keep their nuts in the closet; acknowledging them as nuts….whereas the Sunnis backdoor encourage their nuts…in the hopes they can bring on the end times scenario they privately believe is true.

    Baghdadi didn’t come to a revelation in an Iraqi prison. He acquiesced to theology that the Sunnis believe in private to be true. There is more where he came from, like him, that never lived an “oppressed” day in their life. But fundamentally object to non-Muslims not being subservient to Muslims. They feel a call to action to change that.

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  58. Steve V says:

    @Guarneri: Wait, you don’t like pettiness?

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  59. Jax says:

    @Steve V: He only dislikes it in anybody who isn’t wearing a MAGA hat. Same with debts/deficits, etc. etc.

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  60. MarkedMan says:

    @Jax: Thanks. Curiouser and curiouser. Trump thanked the Russians first, and now they make a fool of him.

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  61. Gustopher says:

    @Jim Brown 32: Baghdadi was a pretty spectacularly talented dude, and his time in the American prison gave him the push down the Wahabbi Wabbit Hole. The power vacuum in Iraq and the rise of Al-Zarqawi’s extra ruthless branch of al Qaeda gave him the opportunity to put his crazy to use. There was no al Qaeda in Iraq before the Iraq War, so that’s also on the US.

    We’re both picking our favorite reasons among dozens. You’re not wrong about Wahabbism and the lunacy there (encouraged by our friends the Saudis), but we helped it along at critical points.

    Someone other than al-Baghdadi may not have had that level of success. He really was quite talented. Post-Caliphate, he had lost a bit of his magic — nothing inspires like winning — but could have come back. Or we just cleared the broken al-Baghdadi out of someone’s way.

    (I do wish Shia and Sunni did not both start with the letter S, however. I always get which is which mixed up)

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  62. Jax says:

    @MarkedMan: I thought so, too. I am seeing some chatter on Twitter that RT is making fun of it….”Oh, Baghdadi is dead AGAIN?!” I refuse to give them my clicks, but I suspect they are messing with Trump’s head. He is, after all, easily messed with, especially by Putin.

    Or maybe it didn’t actually happen. Maybe he needed to change the narrative. I do not trust anything to come out of this administration to actually be true, and I have no doubt that Erdogan, Assad, and Putin are all actually smarter than Trump. Maybe they let him have a little victory, or maybe they set the whole damn thing up.

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  63. Ken_L says:

    Trump announced ISIS’ total defeat and the withdrawal of US troops from Syria last December. Since then he’s made 15 further claims that the ‘tiny red dot’ representing ISIS’ remaining territory in Syria is within days of being eliminated. The wonder is not that they finally managed to kill al-Baghdadi, but that he stayed alive so long in a war zone dominated by his enemies.

    Trump’s propaganda stunt would have been more effective if he or anyone else in the administration had spent the last two years vowing to get al-Baghdadi, instead of declaring again and again that ISIS was defeated. I can’t find any reference at all to Trump wanting him dead, or even knowing who he was, until today.

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  64. CSK says:

    @Ken_L: Since Paul Ryan had to tell Trump who John Boehner was, I very much doubt Trump had any idea who al-Baghdadi was.

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  65. Pylon says:

    @CSK: Watch his announcement – you can tell the name has rarely passed his lips.

    It’s a good thing done. It’s just amazing how Trump can screw up even the victory lap. Tone deaf announcement, failure to advise Congress, obviously staged photo…

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  66. al Ameda says:

    @Guarneri:

    “What is ironic is the fact that the raid was apparently made possible based on intelligence developed by the Central Intelligence Agency, part of the so-called “Deep State” that Trump claims have conspired to undermine his Presidency.”

    This … is … the … truth …

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  67. Mikey says:

    The terrorist leader was “crying, whimpering and screaming” as he ran with three children into a dead-end tunnel, Trump said.

    The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs said “I don’t know what the source of that was.”

    I can tell you: the source was Trump’s own ass, because he made it up.

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  68. Jax says:

    @Mikey: Maybe he was projecting, I suspect that will be his reaction when he loses 2020 and the Secret Service has to drag him crying, screaming and whimpering from the White House.

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