The White House said President Donald Trump would have a “major announcement” at 9 a.m. Sunday morning, although the White House did not specify the topic.
The secret operation targeting Baghdadi was reportedly approved by Trump earlier this month. There were reports Saturday of U.S. military helicopters over Syria’s northwestern Idlib province.
A team from the Joint Special Operations Command carried out the operation after receiving actionable intelligence, sources told Newsweek. The location had been under surveillance for some time. A senior U.S. defense official told CNN that the CIA had assisted in locating the ISIS leader.
The news was hinted at by Trump in a strange tweet earlier in the evening, saying that “something very big just happened.”
Something very big has just happened!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 27, 2019
The ISIS cleric has been in hiding for the last five years. In April, a video was published by the ISIS media wing al-Furqan that showed a man purporting to be Baghdadi.
Several U.S. officials said Baghdadi had been wounded in an airstrike in 2017 and had to give up control of the terror organization for several months. He became the head of ISIS in 2010.