The operation that led to the killing of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi by U.S. special forces was captured on video by a drone flying over the terrorist’s compound. Yesterday, the Pentagon released that video while Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., commander of U.S. Central Command, provided commentary.
General McKenzie made some news at the press conference when he revealed that U.S. troops found Baghdadi cowering in a cave with two children. He detonated his suicide vest, killing himself and both children.
As the U.S. aircraft arrived at the compound, the choppers started receiving fire from fighters on the ground. McKenzie said he believes those groups were not ISIS members. Still, he said, they demonstrated hostile intent against U.S. forces and were killed by two airstrikes from supporting helicopters.
The assault force surrounded the compound and urged those inside to surrender peacefully. “Those who came out of the building were checked for weapons and explosives and moved away,” McKenzie said. “U.S. forces detained and later released the noncombatants. The group was treated humanely at all times, and included 11 children.”
Five ISIS members inside the compound presented a threat to the force, the general said. “They did not respond to commands in Arabic to surrender,” he added, “and they continued to threaten the force. They were engaged by the raid force and killed: four women and one man.”
U.S. forces located Baghdadi in a tunnel inside the compound. When capture was imminent, the terrorist detonated a bomb he was wearing, killing himself and two children.
McKenzie also warned of “retribution attacks” by ISIS.
The U.S. managed to collect “substantial” amounts of documentation and electronics during the raid, McKenzie said, but he would not elaborate. Such efforts are a standard feature of raids against high-level extremist targets and can be useful in learning more about the group’s plans.
Although the raid was successful, McKenzie said it would be a mistake to conclude that the Islamic State has been defeated.
“It will take them some time to re-establish someone to lead the organization, and during that period of time their actions may be a little bit disjointed,” the general said. “They will be dangerous. We suspect they will try some form of retribution attack, and we are postured and prepared for that.”
As prepared as one can be, I guess. Just about every expert has concluded that we are going to get hit again. Our complacency and the fanatical, deadly nature of ISIS makes it a certainty.