Bagdhadi was the religious leader of the caliphate who only had one public appearance in Mossul many years ago. I don't believe that he had any operational capacity. His nominated successor has been in charge of the operational aspects all along. Thus, I don't believe this will greatly impact ISIS' capacity to continue acts of terror.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi killed in US raid, Trump confirms
The Islamic State leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has been killed in a raid by US special forces on his Syrian safe house, Donald Trump has announced, ending a years-long hunt for one of the world’s most-wanted terrorists.
Trump said the “impeccable” two-hour operation was conducted on Saturday night in the province of Idlib, one of the few areas of the country still outside Syrian regime control, and that US officials had confirmed Baghdadi, 48, was among those killed.
“US special operations forces executed a dangerous and daring night-time raid in north-west Syria and accomplished their mission in grand style,” he said.
The US president, facing impeachment proceedings and under bipartisan fire for withdrawing troops from the Syrian border, basked in the demise of the self-styled caliphate leader, whose final moments he described in vivid, indulgent detail.
“[Baghdadi] running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering and crying and screaming all the way,” Trump said.
Cornered, Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest and killed himself and three of his children, Trump said. “He died like a dog, he died like a coward. The world is now a much safer place,” he said.
World leaders welcomed the news of Baghdadi’s death but also struck notes of caution. Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, said: “The death of Baghdadi is an important moment in our fight against terror but the battle against the evil of Daesh [Isis] is not yet over.”
Trump said US forces were engaged with “massive firepower” as their helicopters arrived at the building where Baghdadi was sheltering with his family and associates.
“The compound had to be cleared at this time, with people either surrendering or being shot and killed,” he said. “Eleven young children were moved out of the house and are uninjured.
“The only ones remaining were Baghdadi in the tunnel, and he had dragged three of his young children with him. They were led to a certain death. He reached the end of the tunnel as our dogs chased him down.
“[Baghdadi] ignited his vest, killing himself and the three children. Test results gave certain, immediate and totally positive identification. It was him.”
The US president had presaged the news of Baghdadi’s death in characteristic style, inviting speculation by tweeting at 9.23pm on Saturday in Washington DC: “Something very big has just happened!”
Iraqi officials told the Guardian the hunt for Baghdadi had intensified over the past month since they identified a Syrian man who had moved his family members and wives from Iraq to Syria.
An Iraqi intelligence official said the wives of Baghdadi’s two brothers, Jumah and Ahmad, along with other family members, were monitored as they moved to the region. The information was passed to the CIA earlier this month, the officials said.
He was killed in the village Barisha in Idlib province in Syria only about 5 miles from the Turkish border. The area is held by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a rival rebel group that has previously clashed with ISIS.
There are TAF (Turkish Armed Forces) controlled settlements to the north of the village where he was killed. There are also pockets of Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) in the area. Which makes it a bit of a mystery what he was doing there. Was he trying to escape to Turkey?
Apparently the intelligence that led to his capture came primarily from SDF and Iraqi sources. Turkey, Russia and Syria were informed of the mission (probably without identifying its aims) so as not to draw fire from these state parties. It seems that the helicopters came under fire from non-state groups.
Trump's description of Bagdhadi "whimpering and crying and screaming all the way" isn't very credible of a terrorist about to detonate a suicide vest. We'll never find out because we can count on the Americans not to release the video footage.
As long as the imperialist powers are determined to use terrorists groups to pursue their geopolitical aims, terrorists of all colors will have a brilliant future.
Edit: The US forces involved in the mission apparently started from different places in Iraq even though the US base in Turkey is much closer. Did they not trust the Turks?