(CBS) – President Trump said Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the founder and head of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), died in a “daring and dangerous” raid by U.S. troops on Sunday, ending a yearslong manhunt for the most wanted terrorist in the world.
“Last night, the United States brought the world’s number one terrorist leader to justice,” the president said. “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead.”
The president said he watched much of the raid from the White House Situation Room, alongside the secretary of defense and other top military and national security officials. He said al-Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest at the end of a tunnel after a two-hour long gunfight with U.S. forces, saying he was “whimpering and crying and screaming all the way.” Mr. Trump called him a “sick and depraved man.”
“Baghdadi and the losers who worked for him, and losers they are, they had no idea what they were getting into. In some cases, they were very frightened puppies,” the president said. “He died like a dog. He died like a coward. The world is now a much safer place. God bless America.”
No U.S. forces were killed in the raid, Mr. Trump said. He said the troops involved “accomplished their mission in grand style.”
The killing of al-Baghdadi comes at a pivotal time, as the president is under fire from members of both parties for his decision three weeks ago to withdraw troops from northern Syria. The Pentagon said last week that some U.S. forces would be redeployed to northeastern Syria and reinforced to protect oil fields in the region.