U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday he is weighing releasing to the public video footage of the raid that led to the death of Daesh’s former leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Asked about the matter by reporters before departing the White House, Trump said: “We’re thinking about it.”
“We may,” he said. “We may take certain parts of it and release it, yes.”
Trump announced al-Baghdadi’s death Sunday following a special operations mission into northwestern Syria.
The special operation’s mission included eight helicopters descending on the compound where he had been holed up amid gunfire that Trump said was “immediately terminated” by U.S. gunships.
U.S. forces then unloaded from the helicopters and closed in on the building, blowing a hole in its side out of concern that the main door would be booby-trapped.
The U.S. president said he “got to watch much of” the raid in real-time from the Situation Room, asserting no U.S. forces were lost in the operation “while a large number of al-Baghdadi’s fighters and companions were killed with him.”
Trump said al-Baghdadi attempted to escape via a tunnel that ultimately was a dead-end, taking three young children with him “to certain death.” But as U.S. forces closed in, al-Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest taking his life and those of the children as the explosion collapsed the tunnel.
DNA tests on the remains confirmed they were of the now deceased terror leader, and the U.S. further took “highly sensitive material and information” from al-Baghdadi’s final compound, and captured a number of fighters who Trump said are currently imprisoned.
Under al-Baghdadi, Daesh spread over wide segments of Iraq and Syria beginning in 2013, eventually claiming the formation of a “caliphate” in the region as it plotted and carried out gruesome attacks that reached far beyond its main territorial bastion. It further set up local affiliates in other regions as it released heinous execution videos on to the internet.
Al-Baghdadi had been a top target for both the Trump and Obama administrations and had a $25 million bounty placed on his head.
As the U.S.-led coalition took back territories once under the terror group’s hold, al-Baghdadi increasingly stayed in the shadows, only rarely releasing pre-recorded audio messages to his followers.