After “running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering and crying and screaming all the way,” Islamic State (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi detonated his own suicide vest, killing himself and his three children as U.S. Special Forces closed in, President Donald Trump said on Oct. 27.
“He died like a dog, he died like a coward,” Trump said in an address to the nation. “The world is now a much safer place.”
Trump thanked Russia, Turkey, Syria and Iraq for cooperating with the mission and recognized the Kurds for providing helpful intelligence. The president said the Kurds did not play a military role in the operation. He also thanked U.S. forces and intelligence officials involved in the mission.
“Last night was a great night for the United States and for the world. A brutal killer, one who has caused so much hardship and death, has been violently eliminated,” Trump said Sunday. “He died like a dog. He died like a coward. The world is now a much safer place. God bless America.”
Trump described the Saturday night raid in northern Syria’s Idlib province as “absolutely perfect, as though you were watching a movie.”
The commander-in-chief said that American special forces landed with eight helicopters and blew holes into the side of the terrorist compound where Baghdadi was hiding out.
The tunnel caved in on Baghdadi’s mutilated body but test results proved that it was him, Trump said.
“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,” Trump said.
Trump said that no American troops were wounded in the operation, but that “a beautiful dog, a talented dog” that was part of the canine units was wounded but brought back for treatment.
“They did a lot of shooting, and they did a lot of blasting,” Trump said, praising the Special Forces.
The president also singled out American intelligence agencies for praise.
“Thank you, as well, to the great intelligence professionals who helped make this very successful journey possible,” he said.
Trump used the occasion to send a message to all radical Islamic terrorists in the world.
“These savage monsters will not escape their fate, and they will not escape the final judgment of God,” he said.
The president also said he watched “much” of the operation in the Situation Room, though he did not go into detail. The White House later released a photo of Trump alongside Vice President Mike Pence, national security adviser Robert O’Brien, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and other military leaders in the Situation Room on Saturday.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reacted to the news of the death of the terrorist by calling for the House to be, “briefed on this raid, which the Russians but not top Congressional Leadership were notified of in advance.”