Pentagon Releases First Declassified Video of Al-Baghdadi Raid
The Pentagon released video footage of the weekend raid that led to the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, including attacks on fighters from the area surrounding the compound where the terrorist leader was hiding.
General Kenneth McKenzie, the head of U.S. Central Command, showed images of the the American attack at the Pentagon on Wednesday, including the strikes on the fighters as well as U.S. forces approaching al-Baghdadi’s compound. The site was about four miles (6.4 kilometers) from the Turkish border in Idlib province.
McKenzie, like other Pentagon officials, said he couldn’t confirm President Donald Trump’s graphic description of al-Baghdadi “whimpering and crying and screaming” when he was cornered.
“I’m not able to confirm anything else about his last seconds.” McKenzie said. He said that al-Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest with two small children in the tunnel in which his body was found.
Al-Baghdadi was the highest-ranking terrorist leader targeted by U.S. forces since al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011 in a raid in Pakistan during the Obama administration. The military held a Muslim ceremony before disposing of his body at sea “in a weighted bag,” the Pentagon announced at the time.
Al-Baghdadi was similarly buried at sea within 24 hours, McKenzie said. A forensic test confirmed his identity “certainly beyond a shadow of a doubt,” he said. The raid led to the seizure of substantial documentation and electronics, he added.
Despite the success in eliminating the Islamic State leader, the U.S. expects the terrorist group to seek retribution, the general said. McKenzie added that “we don’t see a bloodless future” because its ideology will persist.
A military dog injured in the attack is a “four-year veteran” and has carried out about 50 combat missions, McKenzie said. He said the animal was injured by “exposed electrical cables” in the tunnel after al-Baghdadi set off his suicide explosives. Trump praised the dog in comments on Sunday and in tweets but added that its name remained classified.
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