As expected, Donald Trump announced that U.S. forces had found and killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. According to Trump, several other ISIS fighters were killed at the site while a smaller group was taken prisoner. Overall, a successful military operation to take out someone who was a genuine monster in both his ideas and his actions. But Donald Trump’s speech about that operation is likely to lead to additional violence.
Trump delivered his speech with such bloody glee, that clips of it could be used for any number of terrorist recruiting videos. He repeatedly returned to claims that al-Baghdadi had “screamed, cried, and whimpered,” that he had “run like a dog, like a coward.” And, according to Trump, the ISIS founder was eventually pursued into a dead-end tunnel by dogs brought to the compound by U.S. forces. He then died by setting off a suicide vest. In the process he also killed three children.
No one mourns al-Baghdadi. The level of fanaticism, intolerance, and violence he brought to ISIS was disturbing even to other terrorist leaders. However, the way that Trump painted his end, including his emphasis on the use of dogs, his calling al-Baghdadi a dog, and repeatedly talking about the ISIS leader crying and screaming … will not go down well in the Middle East. Additionally, the idea that al-Baghdadi ultimately evaded capture and died by his own hand will also be seen as a “victory” of sort by his followers. Trump’s delivery of the information, and the disturbing level of childish gloating that came with it, is likely to generate considerable anger, if not immediate unrest.
Trump reported that eleven children were taken out of the compound and handed over to “someone” who could be trusted to look over them. He did not say who, and he did not provide any figures for the number of ISIS fighters killed or captured at the site.
At numerous times during the announcement and the short Q&A that followed, Trump thanked Russia, Turkey, and Syria for their help. He mentioned the Kurds only in response to a question, and denied that Kurdish soldiers had been involved even though Kurdish leaders had earlier described al-Baghdadi’s death as a “joint operation.” Trump also noted that he had called Russia in advance to let them know U.S. forces were coming in to do something “they would like.”
Finally, Trump ended the Q&A session by claiming that he had called for Mohammed bin Laden to be taken out in a book published before 9/11. Which was simply not true.
In Trump’s description of events, al-Baghdadi fled from U.S. forces, taking three children with him. The ISIS leader ran into a tunnel where, as dogs closed in, he ignited a suicide vest. The explosion killed al-Baghdadi and “mutilated his body,” killed the children and caused a collapse of the tunnel. But U.S. forces were apparently able to collect DNA from the body to make an “immediate” ID.
In describing the action, Trump repeatedly bragged about what a great view of the action he had calling it “like a movie.” He seemed particularly impressed by the fact that the forces had blasted their way into the compound. “If you’re a normal person, you say ‘Knock, knock, may I come in?’” said Trump. “But they didn’t go through the door.” He returned to this moment at least three times.
In the Q & A, Trump repeatedly praised the assistance of Turkey and Russia, but declared he was disappointed in the U.K., France, and Germany for not taking “their ISIS fighters.” He said that he had already threatened the leaders of those countries that he would take the terrorists and “drop them right on their borders.” Trump also said he did not tell Nancy Pelosi of the upcoming action out of security concerns. However, he did brief Russian officials in the Oval Office.
Finally, Trump used his speech to once again make claims that the United States should have taken the oil when invading Iraq and declared that the U.S. actually would take some of the oil from Syria — even though such action is clearly against international law. “It helps us, because we should be able to take some also,” said Trump. He suggested that Exxon could do the job as he repeated that the U.S. would keep forces in Syria not to protect people … but to take oil.
Oh shit there is a video that backs up the ‘don’t congratulate Obama’ ..
— Oskaer (@Oskaer__13) October 27, 2019