Trump held a press conference a the White House this morning to announce that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead.
Trump said Baghdadi was killed in a raid conducted by the U.S. military in northwest Syria on Saturday. Baghdadi, who has been the subject of an international manhunt for years, has been incorrectly reported dead or injured multiple times.
Trump said Baghdadi detonated his suicide vest after fleeing into a tunnel chased by U.S. military dogs, the BBC reports. Baghdadi led a group of jihadists that carried out multiple atrocities that resulted in thousands of deaths.
“The thug who tried so hard to intimidate others spent his last moments in utter fear, in total panic and dread, terrified of the American forces bearing down on him,” Trump said.
Baghdadi was reportedly accompanied by three of his young children, according to Trump, when he detonated his suicide vest, killing them all.
The blast mutilated Baghdadi’s body but an on-site DNA test confirmed his identity, Trump added.
He has been under surveillance for weeks, according to Trump, and two or three planned raids had been canceled because of Baghdadi’s movements.
U.S. armed forces targeted the compound where he was using eight helicopters, which were met with hostile fire, according to Trump. The commandos entered the building by blowing holes in the wall, avoiding the main door which was booby-trapped.
When Baghdadi detonated his vest, the tunnel caved on him, Trump added. One of the U.S. dogs was injured in the operation.
“He was a sick and depraved man, and now he’s gone,” Mr Trump said. “He died like a dog, he died like a coward.”
No U.S, soldiers were killed in the operation. Officials were able to gather “highly sensitive material” from the operation.
Back in October 2011, the U.S. officially designated Baghdadi a “terrorist” and offered a reward of $10 million for information leading to his capture or death. This was increased to $25 million in 2017.