WASHINGTON( AP) — The helicopters flew low-spirited and fast into the night, ferrying U.S. special forces to a combination where Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was hiding in Syria. Half a life away, President Donald Trump watched the raid in real-time via a video tie-up as troops detonated into the hideout and direct the most-wanted militant running the last steps of his life.
The daring attacked was the culmination of years of continuous intelligence-gathering work — and 48 hours of hurry-up planning formerly Washington came command that al-Baghdadi would be at a compound in northwestern Syria.
The night progressed with disciplined accuracy and unexpected turns. This reconstruction is based on the first-blush chronicles of Trump and other administration officials hungry to share the details of how the U.S. snared its top target, as well statements from startled villagers who had no idea al-Baghdadi was in their midst.
A CELEBRATION AND A SECRET TWO-DAY SCRAMBLE
Events developed immediately formerly the White House learned on Thursday there was “a high probability” that al-Baghdadi would be at an Idlib state compound.
By Friday, Trump had military options on his desk.
By Saturday morning, the administration at last had “actionable intelligence” it is unable to exploit.
There was no hint of that interior drama as Trump headed to Camp David on Friday night to celebrate the 10 th marriage anniversary of daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner. Then he was off to Virginia on a brisk descend Saturday for a round at one of his golf courses.
He teed off with Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, in municipality for the World Series, and Sens. Lindsey Graham and David Perdue.
Trump got back to the White House at 4:18 p.m. By 5 p. m ., he was in a clothing in the Situation Room in the vault of the West Wing to monitor the raid. They named it after Kayla Mueller, an American humanitarian worker abused and killed by al-Baghdadi.
The rest of Washington had its focus on Game 4 of the World Series about to get underway a few kilometers away at Nationals Park.
PANIC THEN DEATH
Moments after the White House crew had collected, U.S. aircraft, predominantly twin-rotor CH-4 7 helicopters, taken away from from Al-Asad air base in west Iraq.
Within hours, al-Baghdadi was dead.
The first inkling that something was afoot came when villagers envisioned helicopters swooping low-pitched on the horizon.
“We went out in the balcony to see and they started shooting, with automatic rifles. So we get inside and obscured, ” said an nameless villager. Next came a large explosion — Trump said soldiers exploded a opening in the side of a building because they feared the admission might have been booby-trapped. Al-Baghdadi fled into a system of underground bunkers and passages that snaked through the compound.
The stout, bearded militant governor wore a suicide vest and dragged along three children as he escape from the American troops.
Trump, happy to play up the theatre, was indicated that as U.S. troops and their bird-dogs closed in, the fighter moved “whimpering and crying and screaming all the way” to his death.
“He reached the end of the tunnel, as our bird-dogs shot him down, ” Trump said. “He erupted his vest, killing himself and the three children.”
‘IT WAS HIM’
Al-Baghdadi’s body was disfigured in the explosions, and the passageway caved in on him. To got to get his body, troops had to dig through debris.
“There wasn’t much left, ” Trump said, “but there are still substantial segments that they brought back.”
That’s when the military attacked turned into a forensics procedure — and the special forces had come prepared.
They had have brought samples of al-Baghdadi’s DNA.
The soldiers who attended the attack judged the man who fled looked like al-Baghdadi, but that wasn’t fairly. Numerous histories had portended his death in the past, only for him to surface yet again.
This time there could be no doubt.
Lab technicians conducted an onsite DNA test to make sure and within 15 hours of his death, positively linked the target.
“It was him, ” Trump said.
Al-Baghdadi’s body wasn’t all they retrieved.
Trump said U.S. units remained in the deepen for about two hours after al-Baghdadi’s death and recovered highly sensitive material about the Islamic State group, including information about its future plans.
After the American units retreated, U.S. fighter jets shot six projectiles at the chamber of representatives, leveling it.
THE BIG TEASE
Trump was so excited he couldn’t contain himself.
He hinted of the successful military operation late Saturday by tweeting obliquely that “something very big has just happened! ” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley announced the president would make a “major statement” Sunday morning.
That sent reporters in Washington and the Middle East scrambling, and news organizations soon confirmed that U.S. coerces believed they had killed America’s most-wanted man.
It was a measure of the damaged atmosphere in Washington that two top Democrats — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Adam Schiff, who heads the House intelligence committee — didn’t get a heads-up from Trump about the operation.
Trump didn’t trust them to keep it secret.
“Washington is a leaking machine, ” Trump said. In this case, he said, “there were no spills , no good-for-nothing. The only parties that knew were the few people that I dealt with.”
THE REVEAL:’ THE BIGGEST’
Trump chose the Diplomatic Room to impel his big announcement on Sunday.
In foretell al-Baghdadi’s death, he leaned into comparing the successful functioning with the 2011 mission to kill 9/11 conceive Osama bucket Laden.
While bin Laden orchestrated the deadliest militant attack in U.S. record, the killing of al-Baghdadi — who have contributed to the IS group at its elevation self-restraint more than 34,000 square miles of province in Iraq and Syria — was “the biggest there is, ” Trump said.
Reveling in the moment, Trump wasted more than 45 instants speaking and taking the issues of the raid.
By late Sunday afternoon, Trump’s reelection campaign was ready to turn the raid into political asset. It routed a verse to supporters that said, “Trump has brought the# 1 terrorist lead to justice-he’s KEEPING AMERICA SAFE.”
Associated Press scribes Sarah El Deeb in Beirut, Qassim Abdul-Zahra in Baghdad and Nancy Benac in Washington contributed to this report . em>
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