Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed “whimpering and crying and screaming” in a raid on Sunday morning, US President Donald Trump confirmed.
al-Baghdadi, 48, who had led the jihadist group since 2010, killed himself by detonating a suicide vest after running down a one-way tunnel, and was positively identified a short time later.
“His body was mutilated by the blast, but test results gave certain and positive identification,” Trump said.
The blast also killed three children al-Baghdadi had “dragged [with] him to certain death,” Trump confirmed.
Trump confirmed the news in a statement and televised press conference, after teasing the news hours earlier.
Something very big has just happened!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 27, 2019
He repeatedly described al-Baghdadi as a “sick and depraved” person who “died like a coward”, and his followers as “losers”.
“The thug who tried so hard to intimidate others spent his last moments in utter fear, panic and dread – terrified of the American Forces bearing down,” Trump said.
“He was a sick and depraved man and now he’s gone.”
“He didn’t die a hero. He died a coward.” pic.twitter.com/mxj8aoMLwO
— The White House 45 Archived (@WhiteHouse45) October 27, 2019
The White House also released a photo of Trump surrounded by VP Mike Pence and a host of security and defence chiefs in the Situation Room, reportedly watching the raid unfold.
And look, this is not the point – I want to make it very clear that this is not the point – but that cable situation is a whole other mess.
It’s not clear yet what impact Baghdadi’s death will have on the Islamic State, which Trump said in February was “100 percent” defeated. It is no doubt a blow to the terrorist organisation, but experts have long warned that eliminating a leader does not eliminate the threat.
You can read the full White House statement here.