Perhaps this informant deserves the $25 million just for the guts it took to stick around. A Sunni Arab insider provided the key to unlock an operation to capture or kill ISIS “caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Washington Post reported last night, adding to a legend that includes a panty raid and plenty of other intrigue. Not only did this man finger Baghdadi, he remained in place during the raid so as not to tip off the already-paranoid ISIS leader:
One official knowledgeable about the informant said the man was a trusted facilitator and logistics aide who was involved in helping Baghdadi move among safe houses in the Idlib area before relocating to the compound where he met his end. The informant, who was described as a committed and even enthusiastic participant in the mission, provided essential personal details about the reclusive terrorist leader, including the fact that he always traveled with a suicide belt so he could kill himself if cornered. The informant was so trusted that at times he escorted members of Baghdadi’s family to get medical care. …
The mole’s detailed knowledge of Baghdadi’s whereabouts as well as the room-by-room layout of his sanctuary proved to be critical in the Oct. 26 raid that ended with the death of the world’s most-wanted terrorist, the officials said.
The informant was present during the assault on Baghdadi’s compound in the Syrian province of Idlib, and he was exfiltrated from the region two days later with his family. The man, whose nationality had not been revealed, is expected to receive some or all of the $25 million U.S. bounty that had been placed on Baghdadi’s head, according to the officials. One official said he was a Sunni Arab who turned against the Islamic State because one of his relatives had been killed by the group.
Pay him the money! I’d say he earned it. Granted, his backstory is a little self-serving — ISIS was just fine and dandy, it seems, until his family paid the price — but the informant served up Baghdadi as the reward requested. And we even got Abu Hassan al-Muhajir as a two-fer, plus whomever else we roll up with the intel we’re gathering from these raids. Twenty-five million is cheap in comparison to the lives that won’t be lost to these psychopaths.
But maybe keep an eye on the money and the informant for a while, too.
The US military has dumped Baghdadi’s remains at sea already, but not before parsing through them carefully to ensure they had the right man. Although special forces got a DNA sample to confirm the identity of the corpse, the Post’s grim recounting of the aftermath notes that the test was unnecessary. Baghdadi’s head was, um …
Baghdadi’s head was apparently intact after the explosion, and U.S. operators were convinced of his identity even before a field DNA test was conducted for confirmation, the official said.
One of the commandos radioed his impressions.
“Looking at him. This is Baghdadi,” the operator said, according to the official. “Jackpot.”
Jackpot is right, and not just for the commandoes or for the informant. Let’s remember the families of the victims of ISIS’ brutality, from journalists like James Foley and Steven Sotloff to aid workers like Peter Kassig and especially Kayla Mueller, who got brutalized by Baghdadi himself before reportedly getting killed in a US airstrike. Her parents again expressed their appreciation for the efforts of the US military on this morning’s Today show on NBC, and also their happiness at seeing Baghdadi’s end at their hands. “I’m glad this evil person is gone,” said her father. “How would you feel?” Exactly the same, Mr. Mueller.
“I’m glad that evil person is gone. … If you were a parent and this man did what he did to Kayla to your child, and then they got him, how would you feel?”
— Kayla Mueller’s father on the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. pic.twitter.com/FdIQ1TKkx9
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) October 30, 2019
Now they want to find out where their daughter’s remains are buried so that they can bring her home — if she’s actually dead:
The Muellers also spoke of their sliver of hope that their daughter might still be alive, which they called a “one percent chance.”
Carl Mueller said authorities based confirmation of her death on an announcement from ISIS and from photographs.
“We just decided it was our mission … until she’s home, we’ve got to find her,” and find out what happened to her, Marsha Mueller said.
Heartbreaking. At least the Muellers have the comfort of knowing their daughter’s tormentor died like a coward in a mission dedicated to her.