President Donald Trump on Sunday confirmed the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He died during a secret nighttime mission Saturday night Eastern Standard Time.
According to the New York Times, the CIA learned about al-Baghdadi's location in northwestern Syria after arresting and interrogating one of his wives and a courier earlier this summer. The intelligence agency then worked with Iraqi and Kurdish intelligence officials in Iraq and Syria to narrow down his location. The group did this by placing spies to monitor al-Baghdadi's movements.
From the Times:
The initial planning for the raid began this past summer. The Army’s elite Delta Force commando unit began drawing up and rehearsing plans to conduct a secret mission to kill or capture the ISIS leader, and faced huge hurdles. The location was deep inside territory controlled by Al Qaeda. The skies over that part of the country were controlled by Syria and Russia. The military called off missions at the last minute at least twice.
“It wasn’t until Thursday and then Friday the president chose his option and gave us the green light to proceed as we did yesterday,” Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.
When President Trump announced American forces would be vacating northern Syria, Pentagon officials "were forced to press ahead with a risky, night raid before their ability to control troops and spies and reconnaissance aircraft disappeared, according to military, intelligence and counterterrorism officials."
One official told the Times Syrian and Iraqi Kurds provided the most intelligence for the raid, more than any single country. During his address, President Trump thanked Russia, Turkey, Syria, Iraq and the Syrian Kurds for helping with the mission.