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US official: IS leader believed dead in US military assault

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    This file image made from video posted on a militant website Saturday, July 5, 2014, purports to show the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, delivering a sermon at a mosque in Iraq during his first public appearance. The leader of the Islamic State militant network is believed dead after being targeted by a U.S. military raid in Syria. A U.S. official told The Associated Press late Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was targeted in Syria’s Idlib province. (AP Photo/Militant video, File)

Published October 27. 2019 03:15PM

WASHINGTON — Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the shadowy leader of the Islamic State group who presided over its global jihad and became arguably the world’s most wanted man, is believed dead after being targeted by a U.S. military raid in Syria.

A U.S. official told The Associated Press late Saturday that al-Baghdadi was targeted in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province. The official said confirmation that the IS chief was killed in an explosion is pending. No other details were available. The official was not authorized to discuss the strike and spoke on condition of anonymity.

President Donald Trump teased a major announcement, tweeting Saturday night that “Something very big has just happened!” A White House spokesman, Hogan Gidley, would say only that the president would be making a “major statement” at 9 a.m. ET Sunday.

If confirmed, the operation’s success could prove a major boost for Trump. The recent pullback of U.S. troops he ordered from northeastern Syria raised a storm of bipartisan criticism in Washington that the militant group could regain strength, after it had lost vast stretches of territory it had once controlled.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Syria war monitor, reported an attack carried out by a squadron of eight helicopters accompanied by a warplane belonging to the international coalition on positions of the Hurras al-Deen, an al-Qaida-linked group, in the Barisha area north of Idlib city, after midnight on Saturday. IS operatives are believed to be hiding in the area, it said.

It said the helicopters targeted IS positions with heavy strikes for about 120 minutes, during which jihadists fired at the aircraft with heavy weapons. The Britain-based Observatory, which operates through a network of activists on the ground, documented the death of 9 people as a result of the coalition helicopter attack. It is not yet known whether al-Baghdadi is one of them, it said, adding that the death toll is likely to rise due to the large number of wounded.

Al-Baghdadi’s presence in the village, which is a few kilometers away from the Turkish border, would come as a surprise, even if some IS leaders are believed to have fled to Idlib after losing their last sliver of territory in Syria to U.S.-allied Kurdish forces in March. The surrounding areas are largely controlled by a rival of the Islamic State group — the al-Qaida-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, or HTS — although other jihadi groups sympathetic to IS operate there. Unverified video circulated online by Syrian groups appeared to support the Observatory claim that the operation occurred in Barisha.

The intelligence source on the militant leader’s whereabouts could not be immediately confirmed, but both Iraqi and Kurdish officials claimed a role. The Turkish military also Tweeted that prior to the operation in Idlib, it exchanged “information” and coordinated with U.S. military authorities.

Kurdish forces appeared ready to portray al-Baghdadi’s death as a joint victory for their faltering alliance with the U.S., weeks after Trump ordered American forces to withdraw from northeastern Syria, all but abandoning Washington’s allies to a wide-ranging Turkish assault.

The commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, Mazloum Abdi, tweeted: “Successful& historical operation due to a joint intelligence work with the United States of America.”

A senior Iraqi security official told The Associated Press that Iraqi intelligence played a part in the operation. Al-Baghdadi and his wife both detonated explosive vests they were wearing during the U.S. commando operation, he said.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was divulging sensitive information. He added that other IS leaders were killed in the attack. 

Al-Baghdadi has led IS for the last five years, presiding over its ascendancy as it cultivated a reputation for beheadings and attracted hundreds of thousands of followers to a sprawling and self-styled caliphate in Iraq and Syria. He remained among the few IS commanders still at large despite multiple claims in recent years about his death and even as his so-called caliphate dramatically shrank, with many supporters who joined the cause either imprisoned or jailed.

His exhortations were instrumental in inspiring terrorist attacks in the heart of Europe and in the United States. Shifting away from the airline hijackings and other mass-casualty attacks that came to define al-Qaida, al-Baghdadi and other IS leaders supported smaller-scale acts of violence that would be harder for law enforcement to prepare for and prevent.

They encouraged jihadists who could not travel to the caliphate to kill where they were, with whatever weapon they had at their disposal. In the U.S., multiple extremists have pledged their allegiance to al-Baghdadi on social media, including a woman who along with her husband committed a 2015 massacre at a holiday party in San Bernardino, California.

With a $25 million U.S. bounty on his head, al-Baghdadi has been far less visible in recent years, releasing only sporadic audio recordings, including one just last month in which he called on members of the extremist group to do all they could to free IS detainees and women held in jails and camps.

The purported audio was his first public statement since last April, when he appeared in a video for the first time in five years.

In 2014, he was a black-robed figure delivering a sermon from the pulpit of Mosul’s Great Mosque of al-Nuri, his only known public appearance. He urged Muslims around the world to swear allegiance to the caliphate and obey him as its leader.

“It is a burden to accept this responsibility to be in charge of you,” he said in the video. “I am not better than you or more virtuous than you. If you see me on the right path, help me. If you see me on the wrong path, advise me and halt me. And obey me as far as I obey God.”

Though at minimum a symbolic victory for Western counterterrorism efforts, his death would have unknown practical impact on possible future attacks. He had been largely regarded as a symbolic figurehead of the global terror network, and was described as “irrelevant for a long time” by a coalition spokesman in 2017.

Al-Baghdadi was born Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri al-Samarrai in 1971 in Samarra, Iraq, and adopted his nom de guerre early on. Because of anti-U.S. militant activity, he was detained by U.S. forces in Iraq and sent to Bucca prison in February 2004, according to IS-affiliated websites.

He was released 10 months later, after which he joined the al-Qaida branch in Iraq of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. He later assumed control of the group, known at the time as the Islamic State of Iraq.

After Syria’s civil war erupted in 2011, al-Baghdadi set about pursuing a plan for a medieval-style Islamic State, or caliphate. He merged a group known as the Nusra Front, which initially welcomed moderate Sunni rebels who were part of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad, with a new one known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Al-Qaida’s central leadership refused to accept the takeover and broke with al-Baghdadi.

Al-Baghdadi’s fighters captured a contiguous stretch of territory across Iraq and Syria, including key cities, and in June 2014, it announced its own state — or caliphate. Al-Baghdadi became the declared caliph of the newly renamed Islamic State group. Under his leadership, the group became known for macabre massacres and beheadings —often posted online on militant websites — and a strict adherence to an extreme interpretation of Islamic law.

Over the years, he has been reported multiple times to have been killed, but none has been confirmed. In 2017, Russian officials said there was a “high probability” he had been killed in a Russian airstrike on the outskirts of Raqqa, but U.S. officials later said they believed he was still alive.

–––

Associated Press writers Zeina Karam in Beirut, Qassim Abdul-Zahra in Baghdad, Zeynep Bilginsoy in Istanbul contributed to this report.

Comments
Baghdadi hasn’t been relevant for over 5 years and another will take his place if we continue on the current foreign policy in Syria
Insignificant? Come on Joe, even the market responded...
S&P 500 jumps to record high on strong earnings.
"The S&P just hit an ALL TIME HIGH. This is a big win for jobs, 401-K’s, and, frankly, EVERYONE! Our Country is doing great. Even killed long sought ISIS murderer, Al-Baghdadi. We are stronger than ever before, with GREAT upward potential. Enjoy!" D J Trump.

Getting tired of winning over here Joe.
Obama did nothing. Obama simply signed off on it, a no brainer at that.
Finding bin Laden was a victory for the detention and interrogation policies of the Bush Administration, to which Obama fought hard against.
Obama did nothing.
FAKENEWSFOXNEWSWHITEHOUSE BS.
The opportunistic trump stepped in crap. Let me put this in a way you trumptards can understand. It's like finding a dead skunk on the road. You claim you killed it, but your car doesn't stink! trump is a poser... they found a dead Arabian man and...
Conrat,
You either get your updates on current events from SNL, or your commie girl friend, Jamie Lee Curtis.
Funny, you dolts hide behind fake usernames and freely insult and heckle here on the TN board. When will this rag change the way people sign in on this board?

Mike Meyers
Walnutport, PA
The Washington Post referred to this coward as, the “austere religious scholar at the helm of the Islamic State.”
Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders released his plan to legalize marijuana in the U.S.
Al-Baghdadi must subscribe to the ways of the DHS under the Kenyan's command...
"Run, Hide, Fight" The coward blew himself and three children up! Probably a Democrat.



As a former recruiter. I can tell you that most US Army Volunteers are registered Democrats. Historically, most weaseling out of service have Republican Political ties. Rendering your point mute!
Iraq, REPUBLICAN Guard, Soviet Socialist REPUBLICS, RED State, RED Ties, RED SQUARE, RED SCARE, RED MENACE.
Sorry, but 18 year old kids aren't sharing voter affiliation to Army Recruiters. You are a liar.
Besides, why were you recruiting? For what reason? Where? I know many young Soldiers, I'll bet they never heard of Comrade-Trumpski. Sounds like a french danish with sprinkles.
Liar.
Mike, go read the WaPo article on Al-Baghdadi’s death for yourself and do not rely on right wing bloggers to interpret for you.

WaPo article opens “ few had heard of the organization or its new leader, then an austere religious scholar”.

So let’s look at his biography. Hmmmm, he had a PhD in Islamic studies. Well golly that makes him a scholar no?

How about austere? I’m guessing you don’t know what that word means so I’ll provide Merriam Webster, take your pick: 1. stern and cold in appearance or manner, 2. Somber, Grave 3. Simple or giving little or no scope for pleasure.

Well he was a hardline Muslim cleric living in a single room attached to a mosque. Hard to argue any of that isn’t consistent with that word.

So what are you objecting to?

My objection is the adoration style of journalism toward a man who kidnapped a Yazidi woman, and used her as personal sex slave. You see no problem in his repeatedly raping American hostage Kayla Mueller? You and your buddies at WaPo can kiss up to those who are the antithesis to America and our culture, I'll side with my country.
Thanks just the same for the vocabulary lesson "Joe".


Again, read the article. The headline describes him as “extremist leader”. It goes on to say “baghdadi reveled in ghoulish displays of violence...carried out mass crucifixions, turned female captives into sex slaves, and gleefully executed prisoners” . In terms of Kayla Mueller “Baghdadi also kept a number of sex slaves including American Kayla Mueller who was later killed” .

I realize you are relying on secondary sources that are telling you the WP is celebrating this man but if you take the time to investigate yourself and not be spoon fed propaganda, you might be savable yet.
The Washington Post changed the headline! Initialy, as many have taken screen shots, called him an “austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State.”
They changed it Joe! Try and keep up!
I was at the site.... they changed the obituary.
Bottom line, the administration was able to smoke all you never Trumpers out. Announced the troop withdrawal, you all criticized, and then bang, they got the ISIS leader. Egg in your face Joe, wipe it off.
No, read the article. Too many, apparently like you, just read headlines. If you read the article, you will see it describes him very accurately.
No, the original headline was "Islamic State’s ‘terrorist-in-chief’ dies at 48”. Wapo changed the headline 3 times, and said the austere headline was not their intention and took it down BEFORE the backlash.

Again, you need to read the article....but you won't because it doesn't conform to the trump talking points. what is wrong with america is too many get their news from tweets and only read headlines. This is a dumb "controversy".
It's not dumb, it's First Amendment stuff: the Post is free to report false things to please their liberal readers, and claim that they’re the truth. But isn't it ironic how the post demonized a young man with a hat (MAGA), and nearly praised the ISIS terrorist.
Fake News.
Oh and if you want fake news, here is a good quote today with regard to trump's account of what happened:

“I don’t know what the source of that was,” Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at the Pentagon Monday.
Deflecting again... TYPICAL "JOE"
Who are you anyway? You're like one of those Coward ANTIFA folks. They hide behind masks, you and others at this board hide behind usernames. What are you hiding?
It is common knowledge that the WaPo and other reckless rags morph the wordsmith to articles based on feedback. It's not about news, it's about sales. In this case, they toughened up the writing, as it was obvious there was cuddling going on. Why don't you stop your "Taking On". It's getting old.
The Nationals are losers, just as the fans who booed are. You embrace that kind of behavior? Did people boo the Kenyan? Answer please Country Girl. Is that what you think the people of America should behave like? My God... We have become a Banana Republic.
Transformed by the Kenyan.

Saturday Morning is the men's breakfast, you know the location, the time is 7:00 AM
Please come and check it out instead of slandering me and others.
Not fair "Joe", and you know it. Man up, or cower down and spread lies. You are welcome.
Stop it, you reveal much when you go there. I see all as one race, the human race. I don't see skin tone, though it's apparent you do. Also... Interesting how my faith gets pulled in?
Oh... Hey... No betting.
Calling a natural born US Citizen a “Kenyan” just because he had the Gaul to be a black man elected President is just as bad as any racial slur I’m sure you also use.
Come on Joe... Obama wasn't black, he had a white mom, and actually, no one is certain who his daddy really is. Mom was a soft porn star. Why do you always bring out skin pigmentation? You a racist?
You crack me up...
No matter what I post you come against. Crack Me Up!
Hey... Breakfast is on me. Show up. Iron sharpens iron.
Oh lord, Before you attack the morality of Obama’s mom may I remind you that a simple google search of our current First Lady will yield you several different views worthy of a gynecology textbook.

Please see the "One Drop Rule".
"The Occupant" uses situations like this to reveal the inept actions of the real enemies. He's an expert at smoking out the enemy. For instance, the Democrat leakers. Too funny! Trump is three steps ahead, has the press against him, and yet he wins time after time.
Do you honestly embrace a POTUS getting booed at a baseball game?
Not very lady like!

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