After years of trying to locate and assassinate founder and leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, US military forces reported him dead on October 27th.
Baghdadi spent most of a decade preparing the declare himself the leader of the Islamic state of Iraq and the self-declared caliph (the political and religious leader of the Islamic community), as he claimed to have come from the same tribe as Muslim prophet Muhammad. Over the years he had suffered multiple injuries during airstrikes, leading to speculation of his death.
Since 2016 the United States offered a 26 million dollar bounty for him, as he was the highest ranking terrorist in the world after Osama Bin Laden died in 2011.
The ISIS leader had changed his travel plans multiple times in recent weeks due US forces trying to track his location in order to capture the terrorist. Followed by his family, Baghdadi took extreme measures to avoid capture, not using cell phones and moving to safe houses frequently. However, one of Baghdadi’s three wives and one of his couriers were captured by US officials in Western Iraq. Under interogation, his wife gave up names and locations, which led to the CIA and other foreign intelligence agencies starting to trace his locations, stops and recently used routes.
The operation to assassinate Baghdadi was named Kayla Mueller who was a 26 year old American aid worker who was raped and killed in ISIS custody. Parents of Kayla Mueller said they “are happy the evil person is gone”.
The strenuous raid began around midnight on Friday the 25th in Erbil, Iraq. Helicopters used to carry US Delta Force special operators flew low to avoid detection by ISIS and other terrorist groups. They flew from Erbil to a village named Barisha where al-Baghdadi was located in a Syrian safe house with his bodyguards and a few of his children. The US troops’ landing zone was right outside the building where Baghdadi was staying. When they landed, the Delta Force special ops followed procedure by trying to tell and persuade the inhabitants to leave the safe house. They believed the main door was booby-trapped. When the individuals occupying the building did not remove themselves, US officers blew holes in walls of the building. At this time al-Baghdadi and three children fled to tunnels underneath the building for protection. He was wearing an explosive vest. United States defense secretary Mark Esper stated that soldiers tried to tell Baghdadi to surrender himself, he did not and set off his suicide vest, causing his own death, that of his children and the collapse of the underground tunnel.
US military troops dug through the rubble to find some of Baghdadi’s remains and took them for DNA field tests. After the troops retreated, United States fighter jets fired six rockets at the house, destroying and leveling it so that no one could ever use it again. Baghdadi’s remains were disposed of at sea.
The next morning Trump stated to the public “Last night the United States brought the world’s number 1 terrorist leader to justice, he died like a dog.”
Lafayette high school history teacher Sean Smith stated that the death of Abu Baghdadi “won’t affect ISIS because the next person will just step up and lead. You can kill the person but not the idea.” When asked if he thought members of ISIS would see their founders death as an act of war and strike back, he said, “Maybe, they claimed attacks in the Middle East to show that they are still powerful, so this might make them more aggressive”.
This raid happened three weeks after Trump pulled US troops out of Syria, leaving the Kurds to be attacked and by the Turks. As an ally, The Kurds claimed they provided assistance to the US raid, it is now left to the president to take the next step in the Middle East. “The next step in the Middle East should be to go back in and protect the Kurds in Syria and make alliances with them again,” says Lafayette high school teacher Barbara Norton.