“Something very big has just happened!” That was the tweet heard around the world as President Trump tweeted out at 9:23 pm eastern time on Saturday evening.
Shortly after, it was revealed, that President Trump’s tweet was in reference to the combined air and special operations raid in northwestern Syria near the town of Barisha in the A’la Mountains, near the Mediterranean and the Turkish border by U.S. air and special operations forces. Fittingly, situated an area known as the ‘Dead Cities.’
The initial analysis indicated and subsequently confirmed was related to the on-going raid in northern Idlib province of Syria where U.S. led coalition forces were pursuing a high value (terrorist) target (HVT). The assessment and now has confirmed that the HVT was in fact the elusive ISIS Commander, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. This was initially based on intelligence-comms chatter and ultimately supported by official follow-on reporting, as we have seen.
Though the exact time and timing of when and how the operation went down remains classified, President Trump ordered a special operations raid into Idlib province in Syria⏤located in the country’s northwest area. Over the course of what I have learned was a number of weeks, U.S, developed the location and whereabouts of al-Baghdadi. From that point in time, the ISIS leader was identified, tracked, and the targeted for several weeks, until his ultimate demise last night.
Al-Baghdadi who as one of the leading founders of ISIS, led the terror group for the last five years, presiding over its ascendancy as it cultivated a reputation for beheadings and attracted hundreds of thousands of followers to a sprawling and self-styled caliphate in Iraq and Syria. As the ISIS leader, he remained among the few ISIS commanders still at large despite multiple claims in recent years about his death, and even as his so-called caliphate dramatically shrank as President re-tooled the strategy to take down the organization. Over the past nearly three years, many supporters who joined the cause and were either killed, still at large, or jailed.
Al-Baghdadi’s exhortations were instrumental in inspiring terrorist attacks in the heart of Europe and in the United States. Shifting away from the airline hijackings and other mass-casualty attacks that came to define al-Qaida, al-Baghdadi and other ISIS, leaders, to more smaller, and more targeted attacks.
The raid, the final capture/kill phase of the overall mission to take down al-Baghdadi was launched and occurred Saturday night, and was approved by President Trump last week. During successful termination of last night’s raid, word came through unnamed U.S. military and intelligence officials who reported to the President that al-Baghdadi was terminated (killed). Al-Baghdadi according to U.S. special forces operators, detonated a suicide vest as the U.S. forces entered the compound, killing himself. During the operation al-Baghdadi was pursued by special operations K-9s through a series of tunnels⏤him along with a number of his comrades, including three of his children were killed by his suicide vest blast. Thirty plus ISIS fighters were determined to be killed, but that number will likely change. There were no U.S. casualties other than a K9 was hurt by the vest blast. A sizeable amount of actionable intelligence was gathered up from within the compound during the raid.
In turn, this confirms and validates that al-Baghdadi was the target of the top-secret HVT operation in the last bastion of the country’s Islamist-dominated opposition, a faction that has clashed with ISIS in recent years. Heavy U.S. intelligence assets were involved from the NSA, CIA, DIA and U.S. Central Command and Special Operation Command. In fact, a number of al-Baghadadi’s family members had been captured over the course of the past year, including one of his wives who provided a significant amount of intelligence in support of the operational mission.
Obviously, the raid would have been conducted by elements of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), out of U.S. Army base Fort Bragg in North Carolina, a sub-unified command of the U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, FL. JSOC is led by U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General Scott A. Howell, and is the command that oversees special mission units such as the Naval Special Warfare Development Group and 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, known to the public as SEAL Team Six and Delta Force, respectively, among them other special operations units.
Operationally, the mission included; eight Task Force 160 Night Stalker helicopters, the special operations Direct Action (DA) assets Delta Force and U.S. Army Rangers and other special ops assets. Approximately, 50 special operations forces were involved. The overall operation was supported by heavy U.S. airstrikes for roughly two-hours prior to al-Baghdadis termination. The operation was totally a U.S. mission with no other nation direct involvement. Russia was notified through specific and designated channels for the purpose of deconfliction within Syria.
Strategically, for the U.S., the termination of al-Baghdadi would and arguably mark the final obstacle that needed to be cleared to ensure the complete and total destruction, after the physical Islamic State caliphate was eradicated earlier this year in the region. Also note, we as a result of this mission, we are also collecting a lot of intelligence from within the northern region of Syria.
As a result, this can only be described as a total victory for President Trump and once again, another plus to his approach to U.S. military efforts in the region, which has proven far more effective at eliminating terrorists and providing stability and peace than any other effort of the U.S.’s Global War on Terrorism. Look at it this way, while the President was being criticized by numerous so-called military, national security and foreign policy experts over the last several weeks, President Trump was well aware of what was at play, allowing for a major smoke screen to both al-Baghdadi, but to his critics and nay-sayers. It will be interesting to see what those critics will be saying this morning.
Further, the greatest aspect of this whole situation now highlights and perhaps reveals U.S. efforts in the region over the course of the last several weeks, were in fact what the President knew all along, working with his military strategist, designing the U.S. withdrawal, publically making the announcement, and putting into play visible U.S. force’s maneuver and movements which ultimately were partially design to provide a backdrop and more effectively were ‘strategic and deceptive’ in nature.
Highlighting the fact regarding the U.S. withdrawal and the surrounding controversy of the consequences of the pull-back, withdrawal and what appeared on the surface to be the eventual removal of the U.S. from the Syrian-Turkish Border area, eastern Syria, and the redeployment to northern/western Iraq created an uproar in Washington, against President Trump. In this case, many of Trump’s detractors immediately screamed, it would result in the reconstitution of ISIS. This latest military effort and the accompanying strategy should for the most part tamp down that notion. Likewise, the GWOT effort and capability to track and hunt down the world’s worst terrorists remains robust and continues to function unabated regardless of the increase and reduction of U.S. forces throughout the world.
As I always try to explain in such situations, don’t knee-jerk and over react to how this President approaches, national security, foreign policy and international affairs⏤be patient, watch and learn.
While unorthodox and unconventional, the “Trump Doctrine” is effective⏤extremely effective!
Obviously, if you have been paying attention, it is now apparent that the scenario and its elements that played out over the course of the last several weeks, were all part an elaborate and strategically corroborated plan and a highly classified major strategic deception and PSYOP effort to potentially pursue and entrap al-Baghdadi. We are perhaps witnessing some of how that played out.
At the same time, politically, the ongoing U.S. withdrawal uproar was likely ‘a strategic distraction’ from both the overall strategic and operational effort, and that of the U.S. mission in the region to terminate the ISIS and the final kill to the Islamic caliphate in the region.
Politically, and from a national security standpoint, in which the pundits and the Washington failed ruling class of elitist, war-hawks, and NeverTrumpers, and of course the ‘know it all’ mainstream media types ridiculed President Trump and his Syria decision, along with their wrongly defied claim of the “abandonment of the Syrian Kurd’s” receiving much visceral criticism over it in recent weeks. We’ll see where that criticism lies starting this morning, following the President’s announcement of yesterday and last night’s events about the operation.