Al-Baghdadi was top national security priority


President Donald Trump:

“Capturing or killing Bakr al-Baghdadi has been the top national security priority of my administra­tion. U.S. special operations forces executed a dangerous and daring nighttime raid into northweste­rn Syria to accomplish this mission in grand style . ... The thug who tried so hard to intimidate others spent his last moments in utter fear . ... I want to thank the nations of Russia, Turkey, Syria and Iraq, and I also want to thank the Syrian Kurds for certain support they were able to give us. Thank you as well to the great intelligen­ce profession­als who helped make this very successful journey possible.”

Amos Harel, Haaretz:

“A few weeks after he abandoned the Kurds, this important symbolic victory gives Trump useful ammunition to counter his many critics . ... When under President Barack Obama the Americans killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, Trump tweeted that the Navy SEALs had killed bin Laden, not the president; this is true now as well.”

Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post:

“Unsurprisi­ngly, Trump cast himself in the starring role in this operation and overshared details of the operation. If one looks more closely, however, that also should inform Congress of what not to do going forward. Trump’s cockeyed view of the Middle East falsely presumes the Islamic State is completely defeated and deems Russia, Turkey and Syria as reliable powers to manage things in our absence. That’s daft. We should be somewhat comforted by evidence that the military and intelligen­ce community are working to thwart Trump’s impulsive orders as they carry on the bipartisan policy of counterter­rorism, which, like it or not, requires a U.S. presence in the region.”

Christophe­r Dickey, Daily Beast:

“President Trump makes an important point. In fact, it may be an imperative . ... Trump wanted to make it clear that when al-Baghdadi died he was anything but a brave knight . ... Some of the many thousands of radical jihadis and sympathize­rs around the world who revered al-Baghdadi will refuse to believe that he is dead; others will honor him as a martyr, and in the realm of Islamic sects, especially a cult like the so-called Islamic State, the ‘disappeara­nce’ of a leader only serves to intensify the passionate devotion of the faithful. That is one reason the Obama administra­tion buried bin Laden at sea in 2011. There would be no grave to become a shrine . ... It’s a given that very few jihadists or would-be jihadists will believe Trump’s version of al-Baghdadi’s death: cornered as his cronies and family were killed or surrendere­d, then running into a dead-end tunnel with three of his kids where he detonated a suicide vest to blow them up along with himself.”

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