President Donald Trump on Sunday confirmed a United States special forces-led operation targeted and killed Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in northern Syria overnight.
The president announced this in a televised address from the White House on Sunday.
The news comes as President Trump was ordering a withdrawal of American troops from the region.
“Last night, the United States brought the world’s number one terrorist leader to justice,” President Trump said. “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead.”
The American leader said Al-Baghdadi was pursued into the tunnel by American military dogs, “whimpering and crying and screaming all the way.”
The president confirmed that three children of Al-Baghdadi were also killed when the Islamic State leader detonated a suicide vest.
The announcement comes hours after reports spread of Al-Baghdadi’s killing by U.S. forces. Other countries were reported to have provided additional intelligence leading to the raid.
For years, Al-Baghdadi, 48, had terrorised countries with his jihadist campaign, leading different cells of insurgents. Previous reports once said he was killed in American drone strikes, even though he was not as famous as Osama Bin Laden.
He has led Islamic State since 2010, and once boasted from the pulpit of the great medieval mosque in Mosul in 2014, declaring himself the leader of a new caliphate in the Middle-East.
After being away from public glare for a long time, Islamic State released an 18-minute video which included Al-Baghdadi look-alike sitting cross-legged on the ground with an assault weapon.
President Trump repeatedly humiliated Al-Baghdad in death, describing him as “sick and depraved.”
He lampooned the terrorist leader and his followers as “losers” and “frightened puppies.”
He advised that the footage of the operation should be released in order to discourage teenagers and would-be members of Islamic State from becoming terrorists.
“He died like a dog,” Trump said. “He died like a coward.”