• President Confirms: ISIS Leader Killed by U.S. Forces in Syria. Ramifications for America’s Future Involvement There?

    Surge Summary: There are reports the president will be announcing today that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been killed during a U.S. military raid in Syria. If true, this prompts further questions and possible concerns about American troops and involvement in that nation. 

    Update: AP reports:

    U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday announced that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi killed himself during a daring overnight raid by elite U.S. special operations forces in Syria … Baghdadi died alongside three of his children by detonating an explosives-laden vest when he fled U.S. forces into a dead-end tunnel during the attack, which took place in the Idlib region in northwest Syria, the Republican president said in a televised address to the nation from the White House.

     

    It’s being reported a major ISIS figure, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the elusive leader of the group who presided over its global jihad — arguably the world’s most wanted man – has been killed after being targeted by a U.S. military raid in Syria.

    Robert Burns, Eric Tucker, Deb Riechmann of the Associated Press provide what details are currently available:

    A U.S. official told the Associated Press late Saturday that al-Baghdadi was targeted in Syria’s Idlib province. The official said confirmation that the IS chief was killed in an explosion is pending. No other details were available.

    President Donald Trump teased a major announcement, tweeting Saturday night that “Something very big has just happened!”

    The White House says a “major statement” will be made 9 a.m. EDT Sunday.

    There has been much concern and talk recently about a sudden and recent American pullback from northeastern Syria. Would that move strengthen the notorious, terrorist group which, over the past few years, had lost vast stretches of territory it had once controlled? Is the involvement of U.S. forces in Syria something that, in fact, needs to continue as a piece of this “war against terror”?

    Al-Baghdadi 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.

    A $25 million U.S. bounty had remained on al-Baghdadi’s head. He’d been far less visible in recent years, releasing only sporadic audio recordings. Just last month such a communication became public — his first open statement since last April, when he had appeared in a video for the first time in five years. In the September declaration, he called on his loyalists to take steps to free IS detainees held in jails and camps.

    His only known public appearance was in in 2014 as a black-robed figure delivering a sermon from the pulpit of Mosul’s Great Mosque of al-Nuri. At that time, he’d 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.”

    If the president’s announcement later today proves to be that of al-Baghdadi’s violent demise … it will turn out the “burden” the terror chief proclaimed five years ago turned out to be even more than, perhaps, he’d envisioned.

    Stay updated.

    H/T: Associated/Robert Burns/Eric Tucker/Deb Riechmann

    Image: Screen shot: Al Jazeera; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Acn04Evb4go


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