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Westlake Legal Group > central intelligence agency

Intelligence From al-Baghdadi Raid, Including 2 Prisoners, Could Reveal Trove of ISIS Clues

Westlake Legal Group 28dc-intel-facebookJumbo Intelligence From al-Baghdadi Raid, Including 2 Prisoners, Could Reveal Trove of ISIS Clues United States Politics and Government United States Defense and Military Forces Terrorism Targeted Killings Syria Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Espionage and Intelligence Services Defense Department central intelligence agency Baghdadi, Abu Bakr al-

WASHINGTON — Delta Force commandos took two Islamic State fighters as prisoners and a trove of intelligence from the now-destroyed compound where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the world’s most wanted terrorist, had been hiding, officials said Monday.

The prisoners, who are being held in Iraq, are being questioned by the United States military. If the Trump administration follows its previous practice with captured Islamic State fighters, the men will eventually be turned over to the Iraqi government for prosecution.

Both the captives and the documents taken from the compound during a two-hour search of the area following the nighttime raid in which Mr. al-Baghdadi was killed over the weekend could provide a trove of information for the military and intelligence agencies, current and former officials said.

Officials said the intelligence is expected to underscore assessments that Mr. al-Baghdadi no longer exercised direct operational control over the group. Officials cautioned that the Pentagon, the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies were still conducting a preliminary review of the confiscated documents and electronic records.

The intelligence material that commandos seized from the compound in northwest Syria where Mr. al-Baghdadi was hiding is likely to contain new details about the group’s operations.

But the officials said they did not expect to find intelligence that would quickly generate follow-up strikes on the Islamic State.

In an interview broadcast in Iraq, Mr. al-Baghdadi’s brother-in-law, Mohammad Ali Sajid, described how the Islamic State leader had communicated with messages sent on flash drives and how people around him had used cellphones. American officials have previously said that Mr. al-Baghdadi did not allow people around him to carry phones, to prevent his location from being discovered through electronic eavesdropping.

Whatever material was found by the Delta Force team, the trove of information could nonetheless shed critical light on how the Islamic State operated, including planning and financial information. The Islamic State famously kept extensive records on its brutal rule in Iraq and Syria, and some former intelligence officials suggested that Mr. al-Baghdadi might have left behind lists of deputies, couriers, contacts and other information that would be useful to American counterterrorism officials.

“ISIS was a bureaucratic organization,” Nicholas J. Rasmussen, the former director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said Monday. “Did he carry any of that stuff around? Rosters of people from other countries. Foreign fighters. Does he have all of that on a disk?”

He added, “It is all about building an understanding of the organization and how it functions.”

The two prisoners seized by Delta Force commandos were in American custody, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters on Monday, but he declined to give details.

General Milley described roughly how the commandos had discovered Mr. al-Baghdadi hiding in the tunnels. In the Iraqi broadcast interview, Mr. Sajid, Mr. al-Baghdadi’s brother-in-law, described how the Islamic State leader had lived in underground tunnels, equipped with a library of religious books, a ventilation system and lights. He described one of the tunnels Mr. al-Baghdadi had lived in as a bunker that was about eight yards long and about five yards wide.

In the interview with Mr. Sajid, which was broadcast by Al Arabiya Hadath, he said that when Mr. al-Baghdadi changed locations he had traveled in two white Toyota pickups accompanied by five men.

Also on Monday, General Milley spoke by telephone to his Russian counterpart, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the Russian General Staff. The two had spoken about Syria earlier in October, as part of the efforts to de-conflict American and Russian operations in Syria. General Milley also spoke to Gen. Nicholas Carter, the United Kingdom’s Chief of Defense Staff.

Intelligence officials are expected to scour the new material for information about ties between Mr. al-Baghdadi and the Islamic State’s affiliates in other countries. That could help the American government better understand how quickly the affiliates could move in a different direction from the core Islamic State group without Mr. al-Baghdadi.

“It will also provide useful insights into the extent to which Baghdadi exerted operational control over ISIS remnants in other countries,” said Norm Roule, a former C.I.A. officer and expert on the Middle East.

Because Mr. al-Baghdadi moved around, the amount of material at the compound may have been limited. Still, even a few thumb drives, computers or other devices could provide huge amounts of data.

And Delta Force commandos who gathered the material after the raid spent two hours or so on the ground and collected a large amount of material, a person familiar with their search said.

The intelligence could also yield clues about the next leaders of the Islamic State, clarifying for intelligence agencies whether a potential successor is preparing to take over and assert control over both Islamic State fighters in Syria as well as its affiliates.

“We should be on the lookout for a personality who seeks to replace Baghdadi and create ISIS 2.0,” Mr. Roule said.

Mr. al-Baghdadi was unusual among terrorist leaders in his ability to both inspire overseas attacks as well as command them, according to intelligence officials. While he directed cells of Islamic State militants who conducted attacks in Europe, his propagandists also inspired lone gunmen in Europe and the United States to mount attacks that were much harder to detect and prevent.

During its campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the United States military focused less on targeting traditional leadership and more on hunting and killing the group’s best propagandists and English language translators. The campaign ultimately diminished the group’s ability to inspire attacks, military officials believed, but they are hopeful they can learn more about the impact of their strikes by analyzing the information seized from Mr. al-Baghdadi’s compound.

Fully examining the intelligence from the raid could take months, according to American officials, who compared the coming workload to the C.I.A.’s examination of the materials seized during the deadly 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan.

Intelligence agencies spent months reviewing that material — and senior officials said that analysts continued to examine some of it for insights on Al Qaeda.

The bin Laden intelligence yielded important details on how he ran Al Qaeda, how he communicated with the outside world and his relationships with other Qaeda leaders. American officials said they hoped for similar information from the al-Baghdadi trove.

“I might anticipate less by way of operational materials and more by way of big-picture strategic materials, such as regarding the group’s overall plans for resurgence in the future,” said Joshua A. Geltzer, a former senior director for counterterrorism on the National Security Council in the Obama administration.

The trove of material seized in Saturday’s raid could be comparable to what was seized in another Delta Force mission in eastern Syria in May 2015.

That raid on the multistory residence of Abu Sayyaf, described by American officials at the time as the Islamic State’s top financial officer, gave the American-led coalition its first big break in revealing valuable information about the group’s leadership structure, financial operations and security measures by analyzing materials.

The information harvested from the laptops, cellphones and other materials recovered from the raid — four to seven terabytes of data, according to one official — included how Mr. Baghdadi operated and sought to avoid being tracked by coalition forces.

“Capturing al-Baghdadi’s safe house means exposing data that will cause significant lasting damage to the broader terrorist network,” Ian Bremmer, the president of Eurasia Group, a research and consulting firm, said in an online newsletter on Monday.

Any more raw information from the al-Baghdadi raid is unlikely to materialize. After the Delta Force troops swept the compound and left, American warplanes and drones destroyed the compound and its tunnel network in a series of airstrikes, with the intention of keeping the site from becoming a shrine.

Alissa J. Rubin in Baghdad and Helene Cooper in Washington contributed reporting.

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Intelligence From al-Baghdadi Raid Could Reveal Trove of ISIS Clues

Westlake Legal Group 28dc-intel-facebookJumbo Intelligence From al-Baghdadi Raid Could Reveal Trove of ISIS Clues United States Politics and Government United States Defense and Military Forces Terrorism Targeted Killings Syria Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Espionage and Intelligence Services Defense Department central intelligence agency Baghdadi, Abu Bakr al-

WASHINGTON — The intelligence material that commandos seized from the now-destroyed compound where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was hiding is likely to contain revelations about his leadership of the Islamic State and could provide a wealth of details about the group’s operations, current and former American officials said.

But they did not expect to find intelligence that would quickly generate follow-up strikes on the Islamic State after Mr. al-Baghdadi, the world’s most wanted terrorist, was killed in a nighttime raid over the weekend in northwest Syria, the officials said.

The likely absence of information that the military could immediately act on underscores intelligence analysts’ view that Mr. al-Baghdadi no longer exercised direct operational control over the group. Officials cautioned that the Pentagon, the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies were still conducting a preliminary review of the confiscated documents and electronic records.

The trove of information could nonetheless shed critical light on how the Islamic State operated, including planning and financial information. Islamic State famously kept extensive records on its brutal rule in Iraq and Syria, and some former intelligence officials suggested that Mr. al-Baghdadi might have left behind lists of deputies, couriers, contacts and other information that would be useful to American counterterrorism officials.

“ISIS was a bureaucratic organization,” Nicholas J. Rasmussen, the former director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said Monday. “Did he carry any of that stuff around? Rosters of people from other countries. Foreign fighters. Does he have all of that on a disk?”

He added, “It is all about building an understanding of the organization and how it functions.”

The Delta Force commandos who seized the intelligence also captured two prisoners who might also provide information on the Islamic State. They were in American custody, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters on Monday, but declined to give details.

Intelligence officials will also look for material about ties between Mr. al-Baghdadi and the Islamic State’s affiliates in other countries. That could help the American government better understand how quickly the affiliates could move in a different direction from the core Islamic State group without Mr. al-Baghdadi.

“It will also provide useful insights into the extent to which Baghdadi exerted operational control over ISIS remnants in other countries,” said Norm Roule, a former C.I.A. officer and expert on the Middle East.

Because Mr. al-Baghdadi moved around, the amount of material at the compound may have been limited. Still, even a few thumb drives, computers or other devices could provide huge amounts of data.

And Delta Force commandos who gathered the material after the raid spent two hours or so on the ground and collected a large amount of material, a person familiar with their search said.

The intelligence could also yield clues about the next leaders of the Islamic State, clarifying for intelligence agencies whether a potential successor is preparing to take over and assert control over both Islamic State fighters in Syria as well as its affiliates.

“We should be on the lookout for a personality who seeks to replace Baghdadi and create ISIS 2.0,” Mr. Roule said.

Mr. al-Baghdadi was unusual among terrorist leaders in his ability to both inspire overseas attacks as well as command them, according to intelligence officials. While he directed cells of Islamic State militants who conducted attacks in Europe, his propagandists also inspired lone gunmen in Europe and the United States to mount attacks that were much harder to detect and prevent.

During its campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the United States military focused less on targeting traditional leadership and more on hunting and killing the group’s best propagandists and English language translators. The campaign ultimately diminished the group’s ability to inspire attacks, military officials believed, but they are hopeful they can learn more about the impact of their strikes by analyzing the information seized from Mr. al-Baghdadi’s compound.

Fully examining the intelligence from the raid could take months, according to American officials, who compared the coming workload to the C.I.A.’s examination of the materials seized during the deadly 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan.

Intelligence agencies spent months reviewing that material — and senior officials said that analysts continued to examine some of it for insights on Al Qaeda.

The bin Laden intelligence yielded important details on how he ran Al Qaeda, how he communicated with the outside world and his relationships with other Qaeda leaders. American officials said they hoped for similar information from the al-Baghdadi trove.

Any more raw information from the al-Baghdadi raid is unlikely to materialize. After the Delta Force troops swept the compound and left, American warplanes and drones destroyed the compound and its tunnel network in a series of airstrikes, with the intention of keeping the site from becoming a shrine.

Helene Cooper contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Watching the Raid Was Like a Movie, the President Said. Except There Was No Live Audio.

Westlake Legal Group 27dc-video-facebookJumbo Watching the Raid Was Like a Movie, the President Said. Except There Was No Live Audio. United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Terrorism Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Idlib (Syria) Defense Department central intelligence agency Baghdadi, Abu Bakr al-

WASHINGTON — In describing the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Sunday, President Trump used dramatic, even cinematic language to portray the daring American commando raid that brought down the Islamic State leader who, the president said, died “screaming, crying and whimpering.”

Mr. Trump described the video footage he watched from the White House Situation Room as “something really amazing to see.” The experience, the president said, was “as though you were watching a movie.”

What the president saw, according to military and intelligence officials, was overhead surveillance footage on several video screens that, together, provided various angles from above, and in real time.

The videos included heat signatures of those moving around — which analysts labeled friend or foe — at the al-Baghdadi compound near Idlib, Syria.

But those surveillance feeds could not show what was happening in an underground tunnel, much less detect if Mr. al-Baghdadi was whimpering or crying.

For that, Mr. Trump would have had to have gotten a report from the commandos directly, or relayed up through their chain of command to the commander in chief.

At the Pentagon on Sunday, officials steered clear of any description of Mr. al-Baghdadi whimpering or crying, and Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, when pressed about the president’s assertion on ABC’s “This Week,” did not repeat the “whimpering” characterization.

“I don’t have those details,” Mr. Esper said. “The president probably had the opportunity to talk to the commanders on the ground.”

A Defense Department official said on Sunday that it was certainly possible for Mr. Trump to have spoken directly with one or more of the commandos after the raid, or with their commanders who had spoken to members of the raiding party.

In addition to the version provided by Mr. Trump in lengthy televised comments, the accounting of what he saw was provided by a number of military, intelligence and administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the raid.

Mr. Trump would not have received any real-time dialogue from the scene, the officials said, because the last thing American military planners want is to invite critique, second-guessing or even new orders from the Situation Room in the middle of an active military raid.

In fact, in recent years American Special Operations forces have moved away from using helmet cameras to pipe back video in real time on every mission because it is often violent and disorienting, and invites instant quarterbacking from back in command centers.

Perhaps because of the importance of this raid, though, the Delta Force operators were wearing body cameras, officials said, but those cameras do not broadcast in real time; instead the video in those cameras is configured to be downloaded and reviewed after the operation is complete.

At the time of Mr. Trump’s remarks, that footage had not been reviewed by senior commanders in the Pentagon or given to the White House. It is not clear whether the dog that followed Mr. al-Baghdadi into the tunnel was wearing a body camera.

Mr. Trump said he did not have to make any decisions in the moments of the raid, while troops were on the ground. (Military officials said they would never have asked him to).

“No,” Mr. Trump said in response to whether he had to make decisions on the fly. “We were getting full reports on literally a minute-by-minute basis. ‘Sir, we just broke in. Sir, the wall is down. Sir, you know, we’ve captured. Sir, two people are coming out right now. Hands up.’ ”

Then, Mr. Trump said, he was given a report: “‘Sir, there’s only one person in the building. We are sure he’s in the tunnel trying to escape.’”

“But it’s a dead-end tunnel,” Mr. Trump said he was told.

In the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, the Al Qaeda leader, in 2011, Leon E. Panetta, who then was serving as C.I.A. director, narrated the events unfolding in Abbottabad, Pakistan, to President Barack Obama and his national security advisers in the Situation Room.

Mr. Panetta was on a video screen as he spoke from C.I.A. headquarters, and was the one who informed the president when the Al Qaeda leader, code-named “Geronimo,” was positively identified by Navy SEALs as being in the house — and, later, when he was killed.

“Geronimo EKIA,” Mr. Panetta said, for Enemy Killed in Action.

It was unclear on Sunday whether Mr. al-Baghdadi similarly was given a code name for the Idlib raid.

Helene Cooper and Julian E. Barnes reported from Washington, and Thomas Gibbons-Neff from Kabul, Afghanistan.

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Al-Baghdadi Raid Was a Victory Built on Factors Trump Derides

Westlake Legal Group 27dc-assess-promo-facebookJumbo Al-Baghdadi Raid Was a Victory Built on Factors Trump Derides United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Terrorism Syria National Security Agency Middle East Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Iraq Espionage and Intelligence Services Defense and Military Forces central intelligence agency bin Laden, Osama

WASHINGTON — The death of the Islamic State’s leader in a daring nighttime raid vindicated the value of three traditional American strengths: robust alliances, faith in intelligence agencies and the projection of military power around the world.

But President Trump has regularly derided the first two. And even as he claimed a significant national security victory on Sunday, the outcome of the raid did little to quell doubts about the wisdom of his push to reduce the United States military presence in Syria at a time when terrorist threats continue to develop in the region.

Mr. Trump has long viewed the United States intelligence agencies with suspicion and appears to see its employees as members of the “deep state.” He also has a distinctly skeptical view of alliances — in this case, close cooperation with the Kurds, whom he has effectively abandoned.

“The irony of the successful operation against al-Baghdadi is that it could not have happened without U.S. forces on the ground that have been pulled out, help from Syrian Kurds who have been betrayed, and support of a U.S. intelligence community that has so often been disparaged,” Richard N. Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said on Sunday.

“While the raid was obviously a welcome success, the conditions that made the operation possible may not exist in the future,” he said.

To Mr. Trump, the death of the Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was proof of the wisdom of his strategy of defending America at home without committing United States forces to “endless wars” abroad.

To the president and his supporters, the arguments from critics amount to sour grapes, an effort by an impeachment-crazed opposition to play down the success of a focused, successful clandestine operation that echoed the killing of Osama bin Laden.

That, of course, was the 2011 moment that Democrats celebrated as proof that a progressive president with little national security experience could take out the world’s most wanted terrorist. And while it had faded a bit in memory by the time President Barack Obama was up for re-election the following year, it was a talking point for his campaign.

Mr. Trump seemed to be laying the predicate for his own campaign talking points on Sunday, when he recounted telling his own forces that “I want al-Baghdadi,” rather than a string of deceased terrorist leaders who were “names I never heard of.” And clearly he is hoping that the success of the raid has a wider resonance: He sees the al-Baghdadi raid, some former Trump aides said, as a counterweight to the impeachment inquiry, which is based in part on an argument that he has shaped foreign policy for his political benefit.

It is too early to know whether any political boost will be lasting. But navigating the complex morass of the Middle East is no less complex for the death of Mr. al-Baghdadi. It is not clear if the president’s decision to pull back American forces in northern Syria in recent weeks complicated the planning and execution of the mission.

And while the raid achieved its goal, it did little to resolve the question of whether Mr. Trump’s instinct for disengagement will create room for new strains of violent radicalism that he and his successors will be forced to clean up.

For Mr. Trump, the aftermath of the Bin Laden killing eight years ago should also sound a warning.

Even without its leader, Al Qaeda evolved and spread. The Islamic State began its killing spree in the vacuum of the Middle East by early 2014, in both Iraq and Syria. Mr. Trump himself, in the heat of the 2016 campaign, accused Mr. Obama of creating the conditions for a new iteration of Islamic terrorism to prosper.

He was the founder,” Mr. Trump said in August 2016, talking about Mr. Obama and ISIS. “The way he got out of Iraq, that was the founding of ISIS.”

The history of the Middle East is rife with the rise of extremist movements, and there is no reason to believe ISIS will be the last. Long after the cinematic details of the daring raid — from its patient beginnings in Iraq last summer to the tense flight into Syria and the chase down a sealed tunnel where Mr. al-Baghdadi met his end — the enduring question will be whether the Trump administration capitalizes on the moment to address the region’s deep sectarian and political fissures and the underlying causes of terrorism.

Clint Watts of the Foreign Policy Research Institute wrote on Sunday that “al-Baghdadi’s death will dash the dreams of an Islamic State centered in the Levant, but its years of operations recruited, trained and dispatched foreign fighters from dozens of countries that will lead the next generation of jihad to other frontiers.”

He added: “Islamic State-trained foreign fighters will be a future terrorism problem for the decade to come.”

Mr. Obama and his administration grappled with that challenge endlessly, and their memoirs are filled with Situation Room meetings searching for an approach beyond drone strikes. But they never solved the problem.

Mr. Trump’s team, in contrast, rarely discusses it. And that is in part because of the president’s very different philosophy of how to secure the country, one that was on display in his sometimes rambling news conference after the announcement of Mr. al-Baghdadi’s death.

Mr. Trump’s approach to the region has never been consistent, but he has struck consistent themes. The first is that the United States does not need to keep forces in the region to reach out and kill its enemies. The high price of occupation, rebuilding and vacuum-filling, he suggests, can be paid by allies, or by Russians, Turks and even the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad.

“That’s why I say they should start doing a lot of the fighting now, and they’ll be able to,” Mr. Trump told reporters on Sunday. “I really believe they’ll be able to.”

All the terrorists need to know, he said, is that the United States will hunt them down, if necessary, even from afar.

But the story of Mr. al-Baghdadi’s demise is more complex. He was living in territory that was essentially ungoverned space, dominated by two different Qaeda groups — Mr. al-Baghdadi’s rivals — and now an emerging territory for ISIS fighters on the run. The Syrians and the Russians control the airspace.

It is exactly the kind of area that American military and intelligence leaders — and the Republican leadership in Congress — have urged Mr. Trump to keep an eye on by keeping a small force in the country.

David H. Petraeus, the former general and C.I.A. director, often says that ungoverned space inevitably becomes extremist space. “Las Vegas rules do not obtain in these locations,” he said this year. “What happens there doesn’t stay there.”

Mr. Trump does not subscribe to that theory. In his view, American surveillance can keep track of the terrorists from above, while the National Security Agency can bore into their networks.

To Mr. Trump, a United States military presence on the ground becomes an excuse for others not to act; it does not bother him, he says, that Russia now occupies an area that was essentially an American protectorate before.

“I’ll tell you who loves us being there: Russia and China,” he said. “Because while they build their military, we’re depleting our military there.”

Mr. Trump acknowledged the help of some of those governments on Sunday, thanking the Russians first for allowing in the American helicopters, saying that the Kurds “gave us some information,” that Turkey was “not a problem.” (He did not give a similar heads-up to the congressional leadership that has been pressing for his impeachment, saying, “Washington is a leaking machine.”) While he declined to say where the operation began and ended, it was from Iraqi territory.

But it is far from clear that, in the absence of American engagement, that access is assured.

The one exception to Mr. Trump’s disengagement philosophy may come over oil.

Mr. Trump said he would not ask American taxpayers to “pay for the next 50 years” of containing mayhem. But in recent days he has indicated he is willing to keep troops around Syria’s oil fields, a consistent exception to the Trump no-troops rule. When the Iraq invasion happened, he noted Sunday, he argued for America to “keep the oil.”

Now he is making a similar case about the oil in Syria. Oil money fueled ISIS, he notes, and more recently it helps feed the Kurds — not mentioning that their access to it is being jeopardized by his sudden decision three weeks ago to abandon the American posts along the Turkey-Syria border.

But in recent days his defense secretary, Mark T. Esper, has indicated Mr. Trump was willing to commit forces to secure the fields, and the president went further on Sunday, saying he intends to “make a deal with an Exxon-Mobil or one of our great companies to go in” and exploit the field properly.

“We should be able to take some also,” he said.

The risk, of course, is that America looks like a force of exploitation, willing to enter hostile foreign lands for two reasons only: killing terrorists and extracting resources. The mission of the American Century — helping other nations to develop their economies and build democratic institutions — is missing from the strategy.

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Trump’s Syria Troop Withdrawal Complicated Plans for al-Baghdadi Raid

Westlake Legal Group 27dc-raid-facebookJumbo Trump’s Syria Troop Withdrawal Complicated Plans for al-Baghdadi Raid United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Terrorism Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Espionage and Intelligence Services Esper, Mark T Defense Department Deaths (Fatalities) central intelligence agency Baghdadi, Abu Bakr al-

WASHINGTON — President Trump knew the Central Intelligence Agency and Special Operations commandos were zeroing in on the location for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State leader, when he ordered American troops to withdraw from northern Syria earlier this month, intelligence, military and counterterrorism officials said on Sunday.

For months, intelligence officials had kept Mr. Trump apprised of what he had set as a top priority, the hunt for Mr. al-Baghdadi, the world’s most wanted terrorist.

But Mr. Trump’s abrupt withdrawal order three weeks ago disrupted the meticulous planning underway and forced Pentagon officials to speed up the plan for the risky night raid before their ability to control troops, spies and reconnaissance aircraft disappeared with the pullout, the officials said.

Mr. al-Baghdadi’s death in the raid on Saturday, they said, occurred largely in spite of, and not because of, Mr. Trump’s actions.

It is unclear how much Mr. Trump considered the intelligence on Mr. al-Baghdadi’s location when he made the surprise decision to withdraw the American troops during a telephone call on Oct. 6 with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. What is clear, military officials said, is that it put commanders on the ground under even more pressure to carry out the complicated operation.

More than a half-dozen Pentagon, military, intelligence and counterterrorism officials — along with Mr. Trump, who gave an account during a White House news conference on Sunday — provided a chronology of the raid.

The planning for the raid began this past summer, when the C.I.A. first got surprising information about Mr. al-Baghdadi’s general location in a village deep inside a part of northwestern Syria controlled by rival Qaeda groups. The information came after the arrest and interrogation of one of Mr. al-Baghdadi’s wives and a courier, two American officials said.

Armed with that initial tip, the C.I.A. worked closely with Iraqi and Kurdish intelligence officials in Iraq and Syria to identify more precisely Mr. al-Baghdadi’s whereabouts and to put spies in place to monitor his periodic movements. American officials said the Kurds continued to provide information to the C.I.A. on Mr. al-Baghdadi’s location even after Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw the American troops left the Syrian Kurds to confront a Turkish offensive alone.

The Syrian and Iraqi Kurds, one official said, provided more intelligence for the raid than any single country.

According to a Syrian engineer who spoke with villagers living near the raid site, Mr. al-Baghdadi had sought shelter in the home of Abu Mohammed Salama, a commander of another extremist group, Hurras al-Din. The commander’s fate in that raid, and the precise nature of his relationship to Mr. al-Baghdadi, are not clear.¶

As the Army’s elite Delta Force commando unit began drawing up and rehearsing plans to conduct the mission to kill or capture the ISIS leader, they knew they faced formidable hurdles. The location was deep inside territory controlled by Al Qaeda. The skies over that part of the country were controlled by Syria and Russia.

The military called off missions at least twice at the last minute.

The final planning for the raid came together over two to three days last week. A senior administration official said that Mr. al-Baghdadi was “about to move.” Military officials determined that they had to go swiftly. If Mr. al-Baghdadi moved again, it would be much harder to track him with the American military pulling out its troops and surveillance assets on the ground in Syria.

By Thursday and then Friday, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said on ABC’s “This Week,” Mr. Trump “gave us the green light to proceed.’’

Around midnight Sunday morning in the region — 5 p.m. Saturday in Washington — eight American helicopters, primarily CH-47 Chinooks, took off from a military base near Erbil, Iraq.

Flying low and fast to avoid detection, the helicopters quickly crossed the Syrian border and then flew all the way across Syria itself — a dangerous 70-minute flight in which the helicopters took sporadic groundfire — to the Barisha area just north of Idlib city, in western Syria. Just before landing, the helicopters and other warplanes began firing on a compound of buildings, providing cover for commandos with the Delta Force and their military dogs to descend into a landing zone.

Mr. Trump said that with the helicopter gunships firing from above, the commandos had bypassed the front door, fearing a booby trap, before destroying one of the compound’s walls. That allowed them to rush through and confront a group of ISIS fighters.

The president, along with Mr. Esper, Vice President Mike Pence and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, watched video of the raid piped into the White House Situation Room from surveillance aircraft orbiting over the battlefield.

The Delta Force commandos, under fire, entered the compound, where they shot and killed a number of people. As the Delta Force team breached the wall with explosives, an Arabic linguist advised children and other noncombatants how to flee, a decision commanders credited with saving 11 of the children Mr. al-Baghdadi had in his compound.

Mr. al-Baghdadi ran into an underground tunnel, with the American commandos in pursuit. Mr. Trump said that the ISIS leader took three children with him, presumably to use as human shields from the American fire. Fearing that Mr. al-Baghdadi was wearing a suicide vest, the commandos dispatched a military dog to subdue Mr. al-Baghdadi, Mr. Trump said.

It was then that the Islamic State leader set off the explosives, killing the three children, Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Esper described the climax of the two-hour ground raid on “This Week” this way: “He’s in a compound, that’s right, with a few other men and women with him and a large number of children. Our special operators have tactics and techniques and procedures they go through to try and call them out. At the end of the day, as the president said, he decided to kill himself and took some small children with him, we believe.”

Mr. Trump was more descriptive. “I got to watch much of it,” he said. Mr. al-Baghdadi, he said, “died after running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering and crying and screaming all the way.”

Mr. Esper did not repeat the “whimpering” and “crying” assertion made by Mr. Trump. “I don’t have those details,” he said. “The president probably had the opportunity to talk to the commanders on the ground.”

At 7:15 p.m. Washington time on Saturday, the Special Operations commander on the ground reported that Mr. al-Baghdadi had been killed. Five other “enemy combatants” were killed in the compound, the White House said, and “additional enemies were killed in the vicinity.”

Two American service members were slightly wounded, the White House said, but have returned to duty. The American military dog was wounded in Mr. al-Baghdadi’s suicide-vest explosion and was taken away, Mr. Trump said.

After the raid, the commandos removed the 11 children from the site and handed them over to a woman in the area. The military then ordered the destruction of the site, to ensure it would not in the future become a shrine to ISIS, according to a person familiar with the operation.

Altogether, the American troops were on the ground in the compound for around two hours, Mr. Trump said, clearing the buildings of fighters and scooping up information that the president said contained important details on ISIS operations. Mr. Trump said the commandos already had DNA samples from the Islamic State leader, which he said they used to make a quick assessment that they had the right man.

Once all the Americans had piled back into their helicopters and started the return flight to Iraq — using the same route out as they had used coming in, Mr. Trump said — American warplanes bombed the compound to ensure it was physically destroyed, Mr. Esper said. Just after 9 p.m. Washington time Saturday — four hours after the helicopters had taken off — Mr. Trump tweeted, “Something very big has just happened!”

Thomas Gibbons-Neff contributed reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan, and Rukmini Callimachi from Romania.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump’s Syria Troop Withdrawal Complicated Plans for al-Baghdadi Raid

Westlake Legal Group 27dc-raid-facebookJumbo Trump’s Syria Troop Withdrawal Complicated Plans for al-Baghdadi Raid United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Terrorism Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Espionage and Intelligence Services Esper, Mark T Defense Department Deaths (Fatalities) central intelligence agency Baghdadi, Abu Bakr al-

WASHINGTON — President Trump knew the Central Intelligence Agency and Special Operations commandos were zeroing in on the location for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State leader, when he ordered American troops to withdraw from northern Syria earlier this month, intelligence, military and counterterrorism officials said on Sunday.

For months, intelligence officials had kept Mr. Trump apprised of what he had set as a top priority, the hunt for Mr. al-Baghdadi, the world’s most wanted terrorist.

But Mr. Trump’s abrupt withdrawal order three weeks ago disrupted the meticulous planning underway and forced Pentagon officials to speed up the plan for the risky night raid before their ability to control troops, spies and reconnaissance aircraft disappeared with the pullout, the officials said.

Mr. al-Baghdadi’s death in the raid on Saturday, they said, occurred largely in spite of, and not because of, Mr. Trump’s actions.

It is unclear how much Mr. Trump considered the intelligence on Mr. al-Baghdadi’s location when he made the surprise decision to withdraw the American troops during a telephone call on Oct. 6 with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. What is clear, military officials said, is that it put commanders on the ground under even more pressure to carry out the complicated operation.

More than a half-dozen Pentagon, military, intelligence and counterterrorism officials — along with Mr. Trump, who gave an account during a White House news conference on Sunday — provided a chronology of the raid.

The planning for the raid began this past summer, when the C.I.A. first got surprising information about Mr. al-Baghdadi’s general location in a village deep inside a part of northwestern Syria controlled by rival Qaeda groups. The information came after the arrest and interrogation of one of Mr. al-Baghdadi’s wives and a courier, two American officials said.

Armed with that initial tip, the C.I.A. worked closely with Iraqi and Kurdish intelligence officials in Iraq and Syria to identify more precisely Mr. al-Baghdadi’s whereabouts and to put spies in place to monitor his periodic movements. American officials said the Kurds continued to provide information to the C.I.A. on Mr. al-Baghdadi’s location even after Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw the American troops left the Syrian Kurds to confront a Turkish offensive alone.

The Syrian and Iraqi Kurds, one official said, provided more intelligence for the raid than any single country.

According to a Syrian engineer who spoke with villagers living near the raid site, Mr. al-Baghdadi had sought shelter in the home of Abu Mohammed Salama, a commander of another extremist group, Hurras al-Din. The commander’s fate in that raid, and the precise nature of his relationship to Mr. al-Baghdadi, are not clear.¶

As the Army’s elite Delta Force commando unit began drawing up and rehearsing plans to conduct the mission to kill or capture the ISIS leader, they knew they faced formidable hurdles. The location was deep inside territory controlled by Al Qaeda. The skies over that part of the country were controlled by Syria and Russia.

The military called off missions at least twice at the last minute.

The final planning for the raid came together over two to three days last week. A senior administration official said that Mr. al-Baghdadi was “about to move.” Military officials determined that they had to go swiftly. If Mr. al-Baghdadi moved again, it would be much harder to track him with the American military pulling out its troops and surveillance assets on the ground in Syria.

By Thursday and then Friday, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said on ABC’s “This Week,” Mr. Trump “gave us the green light to proceed.’’

Around midnight Sunday morning in the region — 5 p.m. Saturday in Washington — eight American helicopters, primarily CH-47 Chinooks, took off from a military base near Erbil, Iraq.

Flying low and fast to avoid detection, the helicopters quickly crossed the Syrian border and then flew all the way across Syria itself — a dangerous 70-minute flight in which the helicopters took sporadic groundfire — to the Barisha area just north of Idlib city, in western Syria. Just before landing, the helicopters and other warplanes began firing on a compound of buildings, providing cover for commandos with the Delta Force and their military dogs to descend into a landing zone.

Mr. Trump said that with the helicopter gunships firing from above, the commandos had bypassed the front door, fearing a booby trap, before destroying one of the compound’s walls. That allowed them to rush through and confront a group of ISIS fighters.

The president, along with Mr. Esper, Vice President Mike Pence and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, watched video of the raid piped into the White House Situation Room from surveillance aircraft orbiting over the battlefield.

The Delta Force commandos, under fire, entered the compound, where they shot and killed a number of people. As the Delta Force team breached the wall with explosives, an Arabic linguist advised children and other noncombatants how to flee, a decision commanders credited with saving 11 of the children Mr. al-Baghdadi had in his compound.

Mr. al-Baghdadi ran into an underground tunnel, with the American commandos in pursuit. Mr. Trump said that the ISIS leader took three children with him, presumably to use as human shields from the American fire. Fearing that Mr. al-Baghdadi was wearing a suicide vest, the commandos dispatched a military dog to subdue Mr. al-Baghdadi, Mr. Trump said.

It was then that the Islamic State leader set off the explosives, killing the three children, Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Esper described the climax of the two-hour ground raid on “This Week” this way: “He’s in a compound, that’s right, with a few other men and women with him and a large number of children. Our special operators have tactics and techniques and procedures they go through to try and call them out. At the end of the day, as the president said, he decided to kill himself and took some small children with him, we believe.”

Mr. Trump was more descriptive. “I got to watch much of it,” he said. Mr. al-Baghdadi, he said, “died after running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering and crying and screaming all the way.”

Mr. Esper did not repeat the “whimpering” and “crying” assertion made by Mr. Trump. “I don’t have those details,” he said. “The president probably had the opportunity to talk to the commanders on the ground.”

At 7:15 p.m. Washington time on Saturday, the Special Operations commander on the ground reported that Mr. al-Baghdadi had been killed. Five other “enemy combatants” were killed in the compound, the White House said, and “additional enemies were killed in the vicinity.”

Two American service members were slightly wounded, the White House said, but have returned to duty. The American military dog was wounded in Mr. al-Baghdadi’s suicide-vest explosion and was taken away, Mr. Trump said.

After the raid, the commandos removed the 11 children from the site and handed them over to a woman in the area. The military then ordered the destruction of the site, to ensure it would not in the future become a shrine to ISIS, according to a person familiar with the operation.

Altogether, the American troops were on the ground in the compound for around two hours, Mr. Trump said, clearing the buildings of fighters and scooping up information that the president said contained important details on ISIS operations. Mr. Trump said the commandos already had DNA samples from the Islamic State leader, which he said they used to make a quick assessment that they had the right man.

Once all the Americans had piled back into their helicopters and started the return flight to Iraq — using the same route out as they had used coming in, Mr. Trump said — American warplanes bombed the compound to ensure it was physically destroyed, Mr. Esper said. Just after 9 p.m. Washington time Saturday — four hours after the helicopters had taken off — Mr. Trump tweeted, “Something very big has just happened!”

Thomas Gibbons-Neff contributed reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan, and Rukmini Callimachi from Romania.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump’s Syria Troop Withdrawal Complicated Plans for al-Baghdadi Raid

Westlake Legal Group 27dc-raid-facebookJumbo Trump’s Syria Troop Withdrawal Complicated Plans for al-Baghdadi Raid United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Terrorism Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Espionage and Intelligence Services Esper, Mark T Defense Department Deaths (Fatalities) central intelligence agency Baghdadi, Abu Bakr al-

WASHINGTON — President Trump knew the Central Intelligence Agency and Special Operations commandos were zeroing in on the location for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State leader, when he ordered American troops to withdraw from northern Syria earlier this month, intelligence, military and counterterrorism officials said on Sunday.

For months, intelligence officials had kept Mr. Trump apprised of what he had set as a top priority, the hunt for Mr. al-Baghdadi, the world’s most wanted terrorist.

But Mr. Trump’s abrupt withdrawal order three weeks ago disrupted the meticulous planning underway and forced Pentagon officials to speed up the plan for the risky night raid before their ability to control troops, spies and reconnaissance aircraft disappeared with the pullout, the officials said.

Mr. al-Baghdadi’s death in the raid on Saturday, they said, occurred largely in spite of, and not because of, Mr. Trump’s actions.

It is unclear how much Mr. Trump considered the intelligence on Mr. al-Baghdadi’s location when he made the surprise decision to withdraw the American troops during a telephone call on Oct. 6 with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. What is clear, military officials said, is that it put commanders on the ground under even more pressure to carry out the complicated operation.

More than a half-dozen Pentagon, military, intelligence and counterterrorism officials — along with Mr. Trump, who gave an account during a White House news conference on Sunday — provided a chronology of the raid.

The planning for the raid began this past summer, when the C.I.A. first got surprising information about Mr. al-Baghdadi’s general location in a village deep inside a part of northwestern Syria controlled by rival Qaeda groups. The information came after the arrest and interrogation of one of Mr. al-Baghdadi’s wives and a courier, two American officials said.

Armed with that initial tip, the C.I.A. worked closely with Iraqi and Kurdish intelligence officials in Iraq and Syria to identify more precisely Mr. al-Baghdadi’s whereabouts and to put spies in place to monitor his periodic movements. American officials said the Kurds continued to provide information to the C.I.A. on Mr. al-Baghdadi’s location even after Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw the American troops left the Syrian Kurds to confront a Turkish offensive alone.

The Syrian and Iraqi Kurds, one official said, provided more intelligence for the raid than any single country.

According to a Syrian engineer who spoke with villagers living near the raid site, Mr. al-Baghdadi had sought shelter in the home of Abu Mohammed Salama, a commander of another extremist group, Hurras al-Din. The commander’s fate in that raid, and the precise nature of his relationship to Mr. al-Baghdadi, are not clear.¶

As the Army’s elite Delta Force commando unit began drawing up and rehearsing plans to conduct the mission to kill or capture the ISIS leader, they knew they faced formidable hurdles. The location was deep inside territory controlled by Al Qaeda. The skies over that part of the country were controlled by Syria and Russia.

The military called off missions at least twice at the last minute.

The final planning for the raid came together over two to three days last week. A senior administration official said that Mr. al-Baghdadi was “about to move.” Military officials determined that they had to go swiftly. If Mr. al-Baghdadi moved again, it would be much harder to track him with the American military pulling out its troops and surveillance assets on the ground in Syria.

By Thursday and then Friday, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said on ABC’s “This Week,” Mr. Trump “gave us the green light to proceed.’’

Around midnight Sunday morning in the region — 5 p.m. Saturday in Washington — eight American helicopters, primarily CH-47 Chinooks, took off from a military base near Erbil, Iraq.

Flying low and fast to avoid detection, the helicopters quickly crossed the Syrian border and then flew all the way across Syria itself — a dangerous 70-minute flight in which the helicopters took sporadic groundfire — to the Barisha area just north of Idlib city, in western Syria. Just before landing, the helicopters and other warplanes began firing on a compound of buildings, providing cover for commandos with the Delta Force and their military dogs to descend into a landing zone.

Mr. Trump said that with the helicopter gunships firing from above, the commandos had bypassed the front door, fearing a booby trap, before destroying one of the compound’s walls. That allowed them to rush through and confront a group of ISIS fighters.

The president, along with Mr. Esper, Vice President Mike Pence and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, watched video of the raid piped into the White House Situation Room from surveillance aircraft orbiting over the battlefield.

The Delta Force commandos, under fire, entered the compound, where they shot and killed a number of people. As the Delta Force team breached the wall with explosives, an Arabic linguist advised children and other noncombatants how to flee, a decision commanders credited with saving 11 of the children Mr. al-Baghdadi had in his compound.

Mr. al-Baghdadi ran into an underground tunnel, with the American commandos in pursuit. Mr. Trump said that the ISIS leader took three children with him, presumably to use as human shields from the American fire. Fearing that Mr. al-Baghdadi was wearing a suicide vest, the commandos dispatched a military dog to subdue Mr. al-Baghdadi, Mr. Trump said.

It was then that the Islamic State leader set off the explosives, killing the three children, Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Esper described the climax of the two-hour ground raid on “This Week” this way: “He’s in a compound, that’s right, with a few other men and women with him and a large number of children. Our special operators have tactics and techniques and procedures they go through to try and call them out. At the end of the day, as the president said, he decided to kill himself and took some small children with him, we believe.”

Mr. Trump was more descriptive. “I got to watch much of it,” he said. Mr. al-Baghdadi, he said, “died after running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering and crying and screaming all the way.”

Mr. Esper did not repeat the “whimpering” and “crying” assertion made by Mr. Trump. “I don’t have those details,” he said. “The president probably had the opportunity to talk to the commanders on the ground.”

At 7:15 p.m. Washington time on Saturday, the Special Operations commander on the ground reported that Mr. al-Baghdadi had been killed. Five other “enemy combatants” were killed in the compound, the White House said, and “additional enemies were killed in the vicinity.”

Two American service members were slightly wounded, the White House said, but have returned to duty. The American military dog was wounded in Mr. al-Baghdadi’s suicide-vest explosion and was taken away, Mr. Trump said.

After the raid, the commandos removed the 11 children from the site and handed them over to a woman in the area. The military then ordered the destruction of the site, to ensure it would not in the future become a shrine to ISIS, according to a person familiar with the operation.

Altogether, the American troops were on the ground in the compound for around two hours, Mr. Trump said, clearing the buildings of fighters and scooping up information that the president said contained important details on ISIS operations. Mr. Trump said the commandos already had DNA samples from the Islamic State leader, which he said they used to make a quick assessment that they had the right man.

Once all the Americans had piled back into their helicopters and started the return flight to Iraq — using the same route out as they had used coming in, Mr. Trump said — American warplanes bombed the compound to ensure it was physically destroyed, Mr. Esper said. Just after 9 p.m. Washington time Saturday — four hours after the helicopters had taken off — Mr. Trump tweeted, “Something very big has just happened!”

Thomas Gibbons-Neff contributed reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan, and Rukmini Callimachi from Romania.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump’s Syria Troop Withdrawal Complicated Plans for al-Baghdadi Raid

Westlake Legal Group 27dc-raid-facebookJumbo Trump’s Syria Troop Withdrawal Complicated Plans for al-Baghdadi Raid United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Terrorism Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Espionage and Intelligence Services Esper, Mark T Defense Department Deaths (Fatalities) central intelligence agency Baghdadi, Abu Bakr al-

WASHINGTON — President Trump knew the Central Intelligence Agency and Special Operations commandos were zeroing in on the location for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State leader, when he ordered American troops to withdraw from northern Syria earlier this month, intelligence, military and counterterrorism officials said on Sunday.

For months, intelligence officials had kept Mr. Trump apprised of what he had set as a top priority, the hunt for Mr. al-Baghdadi, the world’s most wanted terrorist.

But Mr. Trump’s abrupt withdrawal order three weeks ago disrupted the meticulous planning underway and forced Pentagon officials to speed up the plan for the risky night raid before their ability to control troops, spies and reconnaissance aircraft disappeared with the pullout, the officials said.

Mr. al-Baghdadi’s death in the raid on Saturday, they said, occurred largely in spite of, and not because of, Mr. Trump’s actions.

It is unclear how much Mr. Trump considered the intelligence on Mr. al-Baghdadi’s location when he made the surprise decision to withdraw the American troops during a telephone call on Oct. 6 with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. What is clear, military officials said, is that it put commanders on the ground under even more pressure to carry out the complicated operation.

More than a half-dozen Pentagon, military, intelligence and counterterrorism officials — along with Mr. Trump, who gave an account during a White House news conference on Sunday — provided a chronology of the raid.

The planning for the raid began this past summer, when the C.I.A. first got surprising information about Mr. al-Baghdadi’s general location in a village deep inside a part of northwestern Syria controlled by rival Qaeda groups. The information came after the arrest and interrogation of one of Mr. al-Baghdadi’s wives and a courier, two American officials said.

Armed with that initial tip, the C.I.A. worked closely with Iraqi and Kurdish intelligence officials in Iraq and Syria to identify more precisely Mr. al-Baghdadi’s whereabouts and to put spies in place to monitor his periodic movements. American officials said the Kurds continued to provide information to the C.I.A. on Mr. al-Baghdadi’s location even after Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw the American troops left the Syrian Kurds to confront a Turkish offensive alone.

The Syrian and Iraqi Kurds, one official said, provided more intelligence for the raid than any single country.

According to a Syrian engineer who spoke with villagers living near the raid site, Mr. al-Baghdadi had sought shelter in the home of Abu Mohammed Salama, a commander of another extremist group, Hurras al-Din. The commander’s fate in that raid, and the precise nature of his relationship to Mr. al-Baghdadi, are not clear.¶

As the Army’s elite Delta Force commando unit began drawing up and rehearsing plans to conduct the mission to kill or capture the ISIS leader, they knew they faced formidable hurdles. The location was deep inside territory controlled by Al Qaeda. The skies over that part of the country were controlled by Syria and Russia.

The military called off missions at least twice at the last minute.

The final planning for the raid came together over two to three days last week. A senior administration official said that Mr. al-Baghdadi was “about to move.” Military officials determined that they had to go swiftly. If Mr. al-Baghdadi moved again, it would be much harder to track him with the American military pulling out its troops and surveillance assets on the ground in Syria.

By Thursday and then Friday, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said on ABC’s “This Week,” Mr. Trump “gave us the green light to proceed.’’

Around midnight Sunday morning in the region — 5 p.m. Saturday in Washington — eight American helicopters, primarily CH-47 Chinooks, took off from a military base near Erbil, Iraq.

Flying low and fast to avoid detection, the helicopters quickly crossed the Syrian border and then flew all the way across Syria itself — a dangerous 70-minute flight in which the helicopters took sporadic groundfire — to the Barisha area just north of Idlib city, in western Syria. Just before landing, the helicopters and other warplanes began firing on a compound of buildings, providing cover for commandos with the Delta Force and their military dogs to descend into a landing zone.

Mr. Trump said that with the helicopter gunships firing from above, the commandos had bypassed the front door, fearing a booby trap, before destroying one of the compound’s walls. That allowed them to rush through and confront a group of ISIS fighters.

The president, along with Mr. Esper, Vice President Mike Pence and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, watched video of the raid piped into the White House Situation Room from surveillance aircraft orbiting over the battlefield.

The Delta Force commandos, under fire, entered the compound, where they shot and killed a number of people. As the Delta Force team breached the wall with explosives, an Arabic linguist advised children and other noncombatants how to flee, a decision commanders credited with saving 11 of the children Mr. al-Baghdadi had in his compound.

Mr. al-Baghdadi ran into an underground tunnel, with the American commandos in pursuit. Mr. Trump said that the ISIS leader took three children with him, presumably to use as human shields from the American fire. Fearing that Mr. al-Baghdadi was wearing a suicide vest, the commandos dispatched a military dog to subdue Mr. al-Baghdadi, Mr. Trump said.

It was then that the Islamic State leader set off the explosives, killing the three children, Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Esper described the climax of the two-hour ground raid on “This Week” this way: “He’s in a compound, that’s right, with a few other men and women with him and a large number of children. Our special operators have tactics and techniques and procedures they go through to try and call them out. At the end of the day, as the president said, he decided to kill himself and took some small children with him, we believe.”

Mr. Trump was more descriptive. “I got to watch much of it,” he said. Mr. al-Baghdadi, he said, “died after running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering and crying and screaming all the way.”

Mr. Esper did not repeat the “whimpering” and “crying” assertion made by Mr. Trump. “I don’t have those details,” he said. “The president probably had the opportunity to talk to the commanders on the ground.”

At 7:15 p.m. Washington time on Saturday, the Special Operations commander on the ground reported that Mr. al-Baghdadi had been killed. Five other “enemy combatants” were killed in the compound, the White House said, and “additional enemies were killed in the vicinity.”

Two American service members were slightly wounded, the White House said, but have returned to duty. The American military dog was wounded in Mr. al-Baghdadi’s suicide-vest explosion and was taken away, Mr. Trump said.

After the raid, the commandos removed the 11 children from the site and handed them over to a woman in the area. The military then ordered the destruction of the site, to ensure it would not in the future become a shrine to ISIS, according to a person familiar with the operation.

Altogether, the American troops were on the ground in the compound for around two hours, Mr. Trump said, clearing the buildings of fighters and scooping up information that the president said contained important details on ISIS operations. Mr. Trump said the commandos already had DNA samples from the Islamic State leader, which he said they used to make a quick assessment that they had the right man.

Once all the Americans had piled back into their helicopters and started the return flight to Iraq — using the same route out as they had used coming in, Mr. Trump said — American warplanes bombed the compound to ensure it was physically destroyed, Mr. Esper said. Just after 9 p.m. Washington time Saturday — four hours after the helicopters had taken off — Mr. Trump tweeted, “Something very big has just happened!”

Thomas Gibbons-Neff contributed reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan, and Rukmini Callimachi from Romania.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump’s Syria Troop Withdrawal Complicated Plans for al-Baghdadi Raid

Westlake Legal Group 27dc-raid-facebookJumbo Trump’s Syria Troop Withdrawal Complicated Plans for al-Baghdadi Raid United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Terrorism Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Espionage and Intelligence Services Esper, Mark T Defense Department Deaths (Fatalities) central intelligence agency Baghdadi, Abu Bakr al-

WASHINGTON — President Trump knew the Central Intelligence Agency and Special Operations commandos were zeroing in on the location for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State leader, when he ordered American troops to withdraw from northern Syria earlier this month, intelligence, military and counterterrorism officials said on Sunday.

For months, intelligence officials had kept Mr. Trump apprised of what he had set as a top priority, the hunt for Mr. al-Baghdadi, the world’s most wanted terrorist.

But Mr. Trump’s abrupt withdrawal order three weeks ago disrupted the meticulous planning underway and forced Pentagon officials to speed up the plan for the risky night raid before their ability to control troops, spies and reconnaissance aircraft disappeared with the pullout, the officials said.

Mr. al-Baghdadi’s death in the raid on Saturday, they said, occurred largely in spite of, and not because of, Mr. Trump’s actions.

It is unclear how much Mr. Trump considered the intelligence on Mr. al-Baghdadi’s location when he made the surprise decision to withdraw the American troops during a telephone call on Oct. 6 with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. What is clear, military officials said, is that it put commanders on the ground under even more pressure to carry out the complicated operation.

More than a half-dozen Pentagon, military, intelligence and counterterrorism officials — along with Mr. Trump, who gave an account during a White House news conference on Sunday — provided a chronology of the raid.

The planning for the raid began this past summer, when the C.I.A. first got surprising information about Mr. al-Baghdadi’s general location in a village deep inside a part of northwestern Syria controlled by rival Qaeda groups. The information came after the arrest and interrogation of one of Mr. al-Baghdadi’s wives and a courier, two American officials said.

Armed with that initial tip, the C.I.A. worked closely with Iraqi and Kurdish intelligence officials in Iraq and Syria to identify more precisely Mr. al-Baghdadi’s whereabouts and to put spies in place to monitor his periodic movements. American officials said the Kurds continued to provide information to the C.I.A. on Mr. al-Baghdadi’s location even after Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw the American troops left the Syrian Kurds to confront a Turkish offensive alone.

The Syrian and Iraqi Kurds, one official said, provided more intelligence for the raid than any single country.

According to a Syrian engineer who spoke with villagers living near the raid site, Mr. al-Baghdadi had sought shelter in the home of Abu Mohammed Salama, a commander of another extremist group, Hurras al-Din. The commander’s fate in that raid, and the precise nature of his relationship to Mr. al-Baghdadi, are not clear.¶

As the Army’s elite Delta Force commando unit began drawing up and rehearsing plans to conduct the mission to kill or capture the ISIS leader, they knew they faced formidable hurdles. The location was deep inside territory controlled by Al Qaeda. The skies over that part of the country were controlled by Syria and Russia.

The military called off missions at least twice at the last minute.

The final planning for the raid came together over two to three days last week. A senior administration official said that Mr. al-Baghdadi was “about to move.” Military officials determined that they had to go swiftly. If Mr. al-Baghdadi moved again, it would be much harder to track him with the American military pulling out its troops and surveillance assets on the ground in Syria.

By Thursday and then Friday, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said on ABC’s “This Week,” Mr. Trump “gave us the green light to proceed.’’

Around midnight Sunday morning in the region — 5 p.m. Saturday in Washington — eight American helicopters, primarily CH-47 Chinooks, took off from a military base near Erbil, Iraq.

Flying low and fast to avoid detection, the helicopters quickly crossed the Syrian border and then flew all the way across Syria itself — a dangerous 70-minute flight in which the helicopters took sporadic groundfire — to the Barisha area just north of Idlib city, in western Syria. Just before landing, the helicopters and other warplanes began firing on a compound of buildings, providing cover for commandos with the Delta Force and their military dogs to descend into a landing zone.

Mr. Trump said that with the helicopter gunships firing from above, the commandos had bypassed the front door, fearing a booby trap, before destroying one of the compound’s walls. That allowed them to rush through and confront a group of ISIS fighters.

The president, along with Mr. Esper, Vice President Mike Pence and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, watched video of the raid piped into the White House Situation Room from surveillance aircraft orbiting over the battlefield.

The Delta Force commandos, under fire, entered the compound, where they shot and killed a number of people. As the Delta Force team breached the wall with explosives, an Arabic linguist advised children and other noncombatants how to flee, a decision commanders credited with saving 11 of the children Mr. al-Baghdadi had in his compound.

Mr. al-Baghdadi ran into an underground tunnel, with the American commandos in pursuit. Mr. Trump said that the ISIS leader took three children with him, presumably to use as human shields from the American fire. Fearing that Mr. al-Baghdadi was wearing a suicide vest, the commandos dispatched a military dog to subdue Mr. al-Baghdadi, Mr. Trump said.

It was then that the Islamic State leader set off the explosives, killing the three children, Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Esper described the climax of the two-hour ground raid on “This Week” this way: “He’s in a compound, that’s right, with a few other men and women with him and a large number of children. Our special operators have tactics and techniques and procedures they go through to try and call them out. At the end of the day, as the president said, he decided to kill himself and took some small children with him, we believe.”

Mr. Trump was more descriptive. “I got to watch much of it,” he said. Mr. al-Baghdadi, he said, “died after running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering and crying and screaming all the way.”

Mr. Esper did not repeat the “whimpering” and “crying” assertion made by Mr. Trump. “I don’t have those details,” he said. “The president probably had the opportunity to talk to the commanders on the ground.”

At 7:15 p.m. Washington time on Saturday, the Special Operations commander on the ground reported that Mr. al-Baghdadi had been killed. Five other “enemy combatants” were killed in the compound, the White House said, and “additional enemies were killed in the vicinity.”

Two American service members were slightly wounded, the White House said, but have returned to duty. The American military dog was wounded in Mr. al-Baghdadi’s suicide-vest explosion and was taken away, Mr. Trump said.

After the raid, the commandos removed the 11 children from the site and handed them over to a woman in the area. The military then ordered the destruction of the site, to ensure it would not in the future become a shrine to ISIS, according to a person familiar with the operation.

Altogether, the American troops were on the ground in the compound for around two hours, Mr. Trump said, clearing the buildings of fighters and scooping up information that the president said contained important details on ISIS operations. Mr. Trump said the commandos already had DNA samples from the Islamic State leader, which he said they used to make a quick assessment that they had the right man.

Once all the Americans had piled back into their helicopters and started the return flight to Iraq — using the same route out as they had used coming in, Mr. Trump said — American warplanes bombed the compound to ensure it was physically destroyed, Mr. Esper said. Just after 9 p.m. Washington time Saturday — four hours after the helicopters had taken off — Mr. Trump tweeted, “Something very big has just happened!”

Thomas Gibbons-Neff contributed reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan, and Rukmini Callimachi from Romania.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

C.I.A. Got Tip on al-Baghdadi’s Location From Arrest of a Wife and a Courier

WASHINGTON — The surprising information about the Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s general location — in a village deep inside a part of northwestern Syria controlled by rival Qaeda groups — came following the arrest and interrogation of one of Mr. al-Baghdadi’s wives and a courier this past summer, two American officials said.

Armed with that initial tip, the C.I.A. worked closely with Iraqi and Kurdish intelligence officials in Iraq and Syria to identify Mr. al-Baghdadi’s more precise whereabouts and to put spies in place to monitor his periodic movements, allowing American commandos to stage an assault Saturday in which President Trump said Mr. al-Baghdadi died.

But Mr. Trump’s abrupt decision to withdraw American forces from northern Syria disrupted the meticulous planning and forced Pentagon officials to press ahead with a risky, night raid before their ability to control troops and spies and reconnaissance aircraft disappeared, according to military, intelligence and counterterrorism officials. Mr. al-Baghdadi’s death, they said, occurred largely in spite of Mr. Trump’s actions.

The officials praised the Kurds, who continued to provide information to the C.I.A. on Mr. al-Baghdadi even after Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw the American troops left the Syrian Kurds to confront a Turkish offensive alone. The Syrian and Iraqi Kurds, one official said, provided more intelligence for the raid than any single country.

The initial planning for the raid began this past summer. The Army’s elite Delta Force commando unit began drawing up and rehearsing plans to conduct a secret mission to kill or capture the ISIS leader, and faced huge hurdles. The location was deep inside territory controlled by Al Qaeda. The skies over that part of the country were controlled by Syria and Russia. The military called off missions at the last minute at least twice.

“It wasn’t until Thursday and then Friday the president chose his option and gave us the green light to proceed as we did yesterday,” Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_163402746_f6ed84f3-18a9-4125-991c-d61a3ff2d1b2-articleLarge C.I.A. Got Tip on al-Baghdadi’s Location From Arrest of a Wife and a Courier United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Terrorism Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Espionage and Intelligence Services Esper, Mark T Defense Department Deaths (Fatalities) central intelligence agency Baghdadi, Abu Bakr al-

The site of a raid near Barisha, Syria, that was said to have resulted in the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State.Credit…Omar Haj Kadour/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Mr. Esper said he did not know if the United States would have been able to carry out the helicopter raid against Mr. Baghdadi’s compound had American troops been completely withdrawn from Syria, as Mr. Trump had originally planned.

“I’d have to consult with our commanders about that,” Mr. Esper said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

In addition to Mr. Trump’s account, more than a half-dozen Pentagon, military, intelligence and counterterrorism officials provided this chronology of the raid after the president approved the operation.

Around midnight Sunday morning — 5 p.m. Saturday in Washington — eight American helicopters, primarily CH-47 Chinooks, took off from a military base near Erbil, Iraq.

Flying low and fast to avoid detection, the helicopters quickly crossed the Syrian border and then flew all the way across Syria itself — a dangerous 70-minute flight in which the helicopters took sporadic groundfire — to the Barisha area just north of Idlib city, in western Syria. Just before landing, the helicopters and other warplanes began firing on a compound of buildings, providing cover for commandos with the Delta Force and their military dogs to descend into a landing zone.

Mr. Trump seemed eager to provide details of the raid during a White House news conference on Sunday.

The president said that with the helicopter gunships firing from above, the commandos bypassed the front door, fearing a booby trap, before destroying one of the compound’s walls. That allowed them to rush through and confront a group of ISIS fighters.

The president, along with Mr. Esper, Vice President Mike Pence, and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, watched full-motion video of the raid that was piped into the White House Situation Room from surveillance aircraft orbiting over the battlefield.

The Delta Force commandos, under fire, entered the compound, where they shot and killed a number of people. Mr. Trump said they also removed 11 children from harm’s way,

Mr. al-Baghdadi ran into an underground tunnel, with the American commandos in pursuit. Mr. Trump said that the ISIS leader took three children with him, presumably to use as human shields from the American fire. Fearing, apparently correctly, that Mr. al-Baghdadi was wearing a suicide vest, the commandos dispatched a military dog to subdue Mr. al-Baghdadi, Mr. Trump said.

It was then that the Islamic State leader set off the explosives, wounding the dog and killing the three children, Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Esper described the climax of the two-hour ground raid on “This Week” this way: “He’s in a compound, that’s right, with a few other men and women with him and a large number of children. Our special operators have tactics and techniques and procedures they go through to try and call them out. At the end of the day as the president said, he decided to kill himself and took some small children with him, we believe.”

Mr. Trump was more descriptive. “I got to watch much of it,” he said. Mr. al-Baghdadi, he said, “died after running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering and crying and screaming all the way.” The president said that Mr. Baghdadi “had dragged three of his young children with him,” and that the Islamic State leader “ignited himself, killing himself and the three children.”

Mr. Esper did not repeat the “whimpering” and “crying” assertion made by Mr. Trump. “I don’t have those details,” he said. “The president probably had the opportunity to talk to the commanders on the ground.”

Altogether, the American troops were on the ground in the compound for around two hours, Mr. Trump said, clearing the buildings of fighters and scooping up information that the president said contained important details on ISIS operations. Mr. Trump said the commandos already had DNA samples from the Islamic State leader, which he said they used to make a quick assessment that they had the right man.

Once all the Americans had piled back into their helicopters and started the return flight to Iraq — using the same route out as they used coming in, Mr. Trump said — American warplanes bombed the compound to ensure it was physically destroyed, Mr. Esper said. Just after 9 p.m. Washington time Saturday — four hours after the helicopters took off — Mr. Trump tweeted, “Something very big has just happened!”

Thomas Gibbons-Neff contributed reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan, and Rukmini Callimachi from Romania.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com