The U.S. military was able to track down the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was targeted and died in an assault on his compound in northwestern Syria Saturday, because the Kurds had an informant deep within al-Baghdadi’s inner circle, according to General Mazloum Abdi of the Syrian Democratic Forces.
The informant reportedly tracked down al-Baghdadi for five months, and provided a floor plan of one of his hideouts, including the number of guards and locations of tunnels.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who died during a raid on his compound in northwestern Syria on Saturday. During the raid, al-Baghdadi was chased down a dead-end tunnel, where he set off his suicide vest, killing himself and three children with him. Five other people were killed in the compound by the Delta Force; two adult males were captured and are in custody.
David Martin a correspondent reports that after further DNA testing to confirm his identity, al-Baghdadi’s remains were buried at sea.
“His death marks a devastating blow for the remnants of ISIS,” said Acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
Al-Baghdadi may be dead, but ISIS is not, and the mission now is to use the intelligence collected in Saturday’s raid to hunt down the rest of his network.
The Delta Force, which led the raid, spent about two hours at al-Baghdadi’s compound. The U.S. came away with cell phones and laptops which potentially can point in the direction of other ISIS hideouts.
At a Pentagon briefing Monday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said, “I don’t want to characterize exactly what or how much [information] yet until it gets exploited properly.”
President Trump said the only ISIS leader he cared about getting was al-Baghdadi because his was the only name people recognized. But the day after the raid, a CIA drone strike killed the chief spokesman for ISIS, a man who had once been considered a potential successor to al-Baghdadi.
The two men in custody may be able to shed light on what happened to Kayla Mueller, a young aid worker al-Baghdadi had captured and brutalized.
The raid was named after Kayla, and her parents spoke Monday. “His lieutenants have been captured, and who else would know what happened to Kayla but these people close to him?” said Carl Mueller.
“Until we have her home, we truly don’t know what happened to her,” said Kayla’s mother, Marsha Mueller.