Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-BaghdadiReuters

The surprising information about Islamic State (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s general location came following the arrest and interrogation of one of al-Baghdadi’s wives and a courier this past summer, two American officials told The New York Times on Sunday.

Armed with that initial tip, the CIA worked closely with Iraqi and Kurdish intelligence officials in Iraq and Syria to identify Baghdadi’s more precise whereabouts and to put spies in place to monitor his periodic movements, allowing American commandos to stage an assault Saturday in which Baghdadi died.

The officials who spoke to The New York Times praised the Kurds, who continued to provide information to the CIA on Baghdadi even after US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw American troops from Syria. The Syrian and Iraqi Kurds, one official said, provided more intelligence for the raid than any single country.

Trump officially announced on Sunday morning the death of the ISIS chief, providing extensive details about the operation in which he was killed.

Trump said the US suffered no casualties in the operation, while a large number of ISIS fighters were killed along with the terror group’s leader.

Baghdadi "died like a dog. The world is now a much safer place", he added.

There have been conflicting reports about Baghdadi’s fate in recent years. A year ago, it was reported that he was still alive, but that injury and poor health had forced him to relinquish control of the terror group.

In 2017, Russia claimed that the ISIS leader might have been among a group of ISIS members who were killed in a Russian air strike south of Raqqa, the group’s former de facto capital in Syria.

US officials had remained skeptical over reports of Baghdadi’s death. Former US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in July of 2017 he assumes that Baghdadi is still alive.