Rod Reuven Dovid Bryant and Jerry Gordon discuss the superbly executed US special operations raid, which, with Kurdish cooperation and critical intel, bagged the elusive founder of ISIS, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, in Northwest Idlib province at al-Bashir village near Turkey. A separate attack took out ISIS spokesperson and possible successor, Abu Hassan al- Muhajir, in Turkish-controlled Jarabalus. The US raid was named after Baghdadi captive and rape victim, captured US humanitarian aid worker killed in Syria, young Kayla Mueller.
Dr. Stephen Bryen, a Reagan era Pentagon official, noted military technologist and Asia Times columnist, revealed some of the technology and key intelligence that identified the al Bashir safe house in Idlib province in northwest Syria, less than a few miles from the Turkish frontier. Bryen commented that the successful raid was important as it “dashed the hopes of inspired adherents of building a new Caliphate”. That is not withstanding the ability of 14,000 ISIS fighters ranging in Iraq, including hundreds released from prisons in Turkish bombings of a “safe zone” in Kurdish-controlled northeastern Syria.
The all-important intelligence for the raid’s meticulous planning and execution came from Iraqi and especially Syrian Kurdish sources. Information obtained from a Turkish-arrested ISIS figure, turned over to Iraqi National Security, led to one of Baghdadi’s wives as well as his courier who identified the northwest west Syria safe house in al-Barish, Idlib Province. The key intelligence of the interior of the safe house complex and tunnels including Baghdadi’s DNA was acquired from an informant inside the safe house. That was revealed by the Kurdish Commander of the Syrian Democratic Force, Gen. Mazloum Abdi.
Early Saturday morning, October 26, eight US Special Operations Chinook MH-47Gs and Sikorsky UH60’s flying low and fast from al-Asad air base in Iraq descended on the safe house in Idlib. Bryen noted these aircraft are equipped with special devices and are air refuelable and capable of flying longer distances. They deployed upwards of 70 US Rangers and Delta Force fighters, who secured the perimeter and blew a hole in a wall avoiding booby trapped entrances. They engaged in a short fire fight, killing ISIS fighters, sparing some children. They cornered Baghdadi in a dead-end tunnel with the assistance of a hero attack dog. He took his life and that of three children, injuring the attack dog, by triggering a suicide vest. The raiders took two prisoners and a veritable trove of documents that might identify future ‘kill or capture’ targets of remaining senior ISIS cadre. The accompanying attack helicopters fired missiles that destroyed the enclave. Following confirmation of Baghdadi’s Identity from biometric and DNA evidence his remains were disposed at sea with appropriate Islamic rites.
Less than a few hours later, ISIS spokesperson and possible successor Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir was killed in air attack on a vehicle traveling near Jarabalus, Syria, an area occupied by Turkish-backed jihadists of the Syrian National Army. Again, Syrian Kurdish intelligence surveilled the movements of Al-Muhajir.
There were no US casualties in the raid that resulted in the death of the elusive, violent founder of the self-named Caliphate.
Baghdadi was released from US custody in 2010 in Iraq along with former Saddam Hussein security officials. Their plans were put into motion to ultimately form what ultimately became the Salafist Islamic State. It ultimately held a swath of Syria and Iraq, the size of Portugal and repressively governed a population the size of Belgium with massive amounts of stolen funds, taxes and revenues from smuggled oil. In the course of which they killed tens of thousands, engaged ethnic cleansing, rape and enslavement of Yazidi women and children. ISIS produce grisly video of beheadings of several American journalists and aid workers and the burning alive of a Jordanian pilot.
The US also sent an armored column on Saturday from Iraqi Kurdistan into eastern Syria to secure oil production sites in Deir es-Zor Province. President Trump suggested he wanted to have groups like Exxon Mobil develop these sites and refurbish pipelines. Control over those oil sites is contested by both Russia and the Assad regime who have massed forces for a possible confrontation.
Questions were raised in the Beyond the Matrix interview with Dr. Bryen about protection of the Kurdish forces from a spiraling Turkish-backed Jihadist campaign versus a Russia – backed Assad regime scramble for division of Syria. This is compounded by the lack of a Syrian, let along Middle East US strategy and Turkey’s and Iran’s threats to allies Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan and Israel.
Bryen concluded, Russia’s Putin appears to have become the geo-political beneficiary of the turmoil in Syria triggered by the withdrawal of US support for the Syrian Kurds.
Instead of defeating ISIS “100 percent’, as President.