According to a report from the New York Times, Donald Trump’s claim of being behind the military incursion to collect ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was more than an overstatement and that he made the long-planned operation more difficult because of his impulsive decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria.
As the Times reports, military intelligence officials have been tracking Baghdadi’s movements for months after getting tips from one of his wives and a courier.
According to the report the tips “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,” the report notes, before adding the president’s abrupt pull-out from Syria forced the military’s hand.
“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 Times reports.
This runs contrary to the president’s claim on Sunday morning that he has been focused on tracking down the leader for years while stating he has constantly been asking about the whereabouts of the Islamic terrorist since he came into office.
The report goes on to note that nabbing the ISIS head had been called off previously.
“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 Times reports. “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.”
You can read more details about the raid here.