In announcing the takedown of high-level terrorist Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, President Trump described the US military action in detail. Saying that it was much like watching a scene from a movie, the president went through the operation with blow-by-blow specificity. Here is the riveting story and timeline of the Delta Force operation that captured the most wanted of terrorists.
August/September 2019 – US intelligence began to receive reports of al-Baghdadi’s location. Mr. Trump noted that American intelligence was gathered with aid from the Kurds.
On or about October 13 – The US Military began creating a plan to capture the self-described ISIS leader. In the meantime, the US went about securing airspace permission from Turkey, Iraq, and Russia to enable a potential military operation.
October 26 – After hitting the links at his Virginia Golf Course, Mr. Trump returned to the White House, where he was joined by Vice-President Mike Pence, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper as well as selected, unnamed intelligence officials. They assembled in the White House Situation Room.
Just after 5 PM EST – Delta Force personnel lifted-off in eight helicopters along with a canine unit, bound for the al-Baghdadi compound. As the target came into view, gunfire erupted from ISIS forces but was put down in short order by the Americans.
Delta Forces landed and exited the helicopters. The thinking was that the main entrance might have been booby-trapped, so the special operations unit blasted through a compound wall to gain entrance.
The compound was quickly cleared. The president said the occupants either surrendered or were shot and killed. Several terrorists were captured and taken into US custody. It is unclear where they are currently being held. A total of eleven children were rescued and extracted from the operation grounds as well.
Al-Baghdadi was then spotted by the Delta team and fled into a tunnel with three of his children in tow. Despite calls by the American military for Baghdadi to surrender, the ISIS leader refused to cooperate.
Next, the canine unit came into play. The dogs began chasing al-Baghdadi in the tunnel. President Trump said the terrorist was heard “whimpering and crying and screaming.” He then ignited a vest he was wearing that was filled with explosives. The ISIS leader was immediately blown to bits. The three children with him were also killed in the blast. One US military canine was injured, but no personnel were reported wounded.
Because he was mutilated by the blast, it took some work for US military personnel to determine for sure whether the corpse was actually that of Baghdadi. Apparently, they wanted to be certain they had eliminated their target before leaving the compound. In a quarter of an hour, they had their answer: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was dead.
Next, the Delta force conducted a search of the premises to get their hands on as much ISIS information as possible. The operation took about two hours in total before American military personnel were able to exit the rubble that had been Baghdadi’s hideout.
It is unclear where the US forces took off and landed. NSA Robert O’Brien was later quoted by Reuters as saying what was left of al-Baghdadi would be “disposed of properly.”