ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi appears to be seated with a machine gun propped up next to him and a black robe draped around his legs. USA TODAY
Sunday morning President Donald Trump announced that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a special operations raid in northwestern Syria over the weekend.
“Last night was a great night for the United States and for the world. A brutal killer, one who has caused so much hardship and death has violently been eliminated,” Trump said from the White House.
The president had teased a major announcement Saturday night.
Here’s what we know about the ISIS leader:
Al-Baghdadi led ISIS for 5 years
Al-Baghdadi, the highest-ranking terrorist to be killed or captured since Osama bin Laden’s death in 2011, headed the terrorist organization ISIS for the last five years. ISIS has become notorious for its beheadings.
Until his death, al-Baghdadi remained one of the few ISIS leaders still at-large as his “caliphate” shrank and supporters were imprisoned.
Concerns that captured members of ISIS would escape heightened after Trump announced U.S. forces would pull out of northern Syria, effectively clearing the way for a military invasion by Turkey on Kurdish forces who had fought ISIS alongside the United States.
He was one of the most-wanted men in the world
Al-Baghdadi had a $25 million U.S. bounty on his head, after multiple previous reports of the leader’s death.
“Capturing or killing Baghdadi has been the top national security priority of my administration,” Trump said Sunday.
U.S. special operations forces, with the assistance of the CIA, located al-Baghdadi late Saturday. Trump said he was killed while running into a dead-end tunnel.
Both the Kurds and the Turks said they provided assistance to the U.S. raid that targeted al-Baghdadi.
He urged terrorist attacks on the United States
Al-Baghdadi urged his followers to strike western countries, including the United States.
He was shown in a video for the first time since 2014 earlier this year, when he praised attackers who killed more than 250 people, including four Americans, in bombings in Sri Lanka over Easter Sunday. He also released an audio recording last month, calling on supporters to help free ISIS detainees.
Al-Baghdadi helped lead a shift in ISIS operations toward acts of violence that would be hard for governments and law enforcement to prevent, as opposed to more massive-scale attacks.
Contributing: David Jackson, Courtney Subramanian, Michael Collins and the Associated Press
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