Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, blew himself up with a suicide bomb after U.S. special operations forces raided his compound in northern Syria and chased him into a tunnel — and both the president and the family of Baghdadi’s victims have called the terror leader a “coward.”
Baghdadi reportedly dragged three of his young children with him as he fled approaching U.S. forces. The terror group’s leader was chased by dogs to a dead-end before he blew himself up, according to a Sunday White House statement by President Donald Trump.
“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 violently been eliminated,” Trump said. “He will never again harm another innocent man, woman, or child. He died like a dog. He died like a coward. The world is now a much safer place.”
In his remarks, Trump described the work of the U.S. special operations forces who flew in on eight separate helicopters and quickly overran Baghdadi’s Syrian compound, eliminating hostile ground fire and blasting through the compound’s outer walls.
Faced with the sudden and explosive entrance of U.S. forces, Trump said Baghdadi fled and brought three children with him “to die a certain death.”
“He knew the tunnel had no end. I mean, it was a — it was a closed-end — they call it a closed-end tunnel. Not a good place to be,” Trump said.
In describing Baghdadi’s death, the President said it was important to note how the terror group’s leader died, considering the terror group’s own violent recruitment propaganda, oftentimes depicting brutal executions of captives.
The relatives of several ISIS victims appeared to agree with Trump’s assessment, according to the Guardian.
Nadia Murad– a member of Iraq’s persecuted Yazidi minority and who lost many of her family members when ISIS first began to grow its territory – told the Guardian, “Baghdadi died as he lived – a coward using children as a shield.”
Murad herself was sold into sexual slavery in ISIS captivity, but later escaped and went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize for activism against sexual violence in war.
Safi al-Kasaesbeh – the father of Muadh al-Kasasbeh, a captured Jordanian pilot who was burned to death by ISIS captors – said he was happy at the news of Baghdadi’s death. He described the ISIS leader as an “insect” and a “virus” who “distorted the image of Muslims and Islam.”
Mike Haines – the brother of slain British international aid worker David Haines – said Baghdadi’s death was a key step in defeating ISIS but the fight must continue.
Khalifa Alkhuder – a Syrian activist who lost friends and family to ISIS, survived six months in their captivity and has spent much of the time since his escape working to identify the remains of many ISIS mass graves – criticized the Trump and other world leaders of prioritizing political campaigning off of the news instead of helping families recovering from ISIS reign.
“ISIS is gone and its leader has been killed but people are still waiting to find out the fate of theirchildren,” Alkhuder said.
In the day after Baghdadi’s death, the terror group’s likely successor also appeared to have been killed in an airstrike.
In his Sunday remarks, Trump said U.S. forces had gathered key intelligence from Baghdadi’s compound and said the raid demonstrated “our commitment to the enduring and total defeat of ISIS and other terrorist organizations.”
“We’re after these leaders,” Trump said, “And we have others in sight, very bad ones. But this was the big one. “
Trump reiterated his commitment to the defeat of terror organization’s leadership even as U.S. lawmakers have condemned his decision to withdraw many U.S. troops from Syria.