ISIS Chief Baghdadi Buried At Sea By US Military

In this undated file image grab taken from a video released by Al-Furqan media on April 29, 2019, the chief of the Islamic State group Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi purportedly appears for the first time in five years in a propaganda video in an undisclosed location.  PHOTO: AL-FURQAN MEDIA / AFP

 

US officials have said the body of Islamic State group chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was buried at sea, as fresh details surfaced about the US special forces operation that led to his death over the weekend.

Syrian Kurds claimed to be a key source of the intelligence that led Americans to Baghdadi after years of tracking the man behind a five-year reign of terror across much of Iraq and Syria.

And an unnamed US military dog became an unlikely hero of the raid, incurring injuries as it chased Baghdadi down a dead-end tunnel underneath his northwestern Syria hideout, where the jihadist blew himself and three children up with a suicide vest.

The US military basked in success Monday after eliminating the founder and spiritual guide of the Islamic State (IS) group, capping a years-long campaign to crush the Sunni Muslim extremist organization that had at one point created a “caliphate” the size of England.

“His death marks a devastating blow to the remnants of (IS),” said Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

Raid undertaken ‘brilliantly’

He praised the nearly hundred-strong force that helicoptered to the rural compound in the Idlib region of Syria in a complex mission that required coordination with Russians, Kurds, Turks and President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to prevent US aircraft from being fired upon.

“They executed the raid in all of its facets brilliantly,” Esper said.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley said no one was injured in the operation, despite the US team taking fire when they arrived.

They took two men prisoner, and Baghdadi’s body was taken to a secure facility for a DNA test that would confirm his identity, Milley said.

“The disposal of his remains has been done, is complete and was handled appropriately,” he added, saying it was handled “in accordance with the law of armed conflict.”

Another Pentagon official confirmed that Baghdadi’s body was put into the sea at an unnamed location, similar to the 2011 sea burial of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after his death in a US special forces raid in Pakistan.

 Baghdadi’s underwear

A Kurdish official said an inside source the group oversaw was responsible for leading US forces to Baghdadi’s hideout, helping to map out the interior of the compound, its staffing, as well as making it possible for them to identify Baghdadi.

“Since 15 May, we have been working together with the CIA to track al-Baghdadi and monitor him closely,” said Polat Can, a senior adviser to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

The group had an informant who was able to infiltrate Baghdadi’s house.

“Al-Baghdadi changed his places of residence very often,” he said on Twitter.

“Our intelligence source was involved in sending co-ordinates, directing the airdrop, participating in and making the operation a success until the last minute,” Polat Can said.

The source also “brought al-Baghdadi’s underwear to conduct a DNA test and make sure (100%) that the person in question was al-Baghdadi himself,” he said.

‘Beautiful’ military dog

Attention focused as well on the unnamed dog — likely a Belgian Malinois, a breed favored by the military, which chased Baghdadi into a tunnel under the complex and cornered him before he detonated his suicide vest.

Trump praised the dog on Sunday as “beautiful,” but military officials said any information about it, including its name, was secret.

“It’s classified, we’re protecting the dog’s identity,” said Milley.

The dog had been “slightly wounded and is fully recovering,” he said.

US will not police Syria

On Monday, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman offered US President Donald Trump his congratulations on the raid.

“The Crown Prince congratulated the President on the United States successful mission to bring ISIS founder and leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to justice,” the White House said in a statement.

US officials said Baghdadi’s death would not end the conflict in Syria, but warned Washington could not be relied on to bring peace to the region.

“Baghdadi’s death will not rid the world of terrorism or end the ongoing conflict in Syria,” said Esper.

“The security situation in Syria remains complex,” he said, adding: “Acting as a police force out to solve every dispute is not our mission.”

But he said the death of Baghdadi “will certainly send a message to those who would question America’s resolve and provide a warning to terrorists who think they can hide.”

AFP

Iraq To Intervene In Iran/Saudi Row         

 iraqIraq has sent its foreign minister to Tehran with an offer to mediate in an escalating feud between Saudi Arabia and Iran, reflecting Baghdad’s fears that new sectarian conflict could undo its campaign against Islamic State.

On arrival in Iran, the Iraq Foreign Minister told journalists his country has solid relations with Iran and Saudi Arabia and therefore cannot stay silent in the crisis.

Saudi Arabia’s execution of Shi’ite cleric on Saturday has inflamed sectarian anger across the Middle East, infuriating Iran.

Powerful Iran-backed Shi’ite militia called on Iraqi Prime Minister, Haidar Al-Abadi on Wednesday to shut a Saudi embassy that reopened only last month after decades of strained ties.

Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Iran on Sunday after protesters hit the Saudi embassy in Tehran.

Both countries are major rivals in the Middle East and back opposing sides in the conflicts in Syria and Yemen.

There has been immediate reaction from Saudi Arabia to the Iraqi mediation offer.

Saudi-Iran Row: Kerry Calls For Calm

saudi-iran conflictUS officials have said that the United States is trying to mend fences between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Secretary of State, John Kerry, has appealed to both sides to remain calm while State Department spokesman, John Kirby, explained that the phone conversations involve foreign ministers of both countries and the Saudi Deputy Crown Prince.

Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Iran on Sunday after protesters hit the Saudi embassy in Tehran.

Both countries are major rivals in the middle east and back opposing sides in the conflicts in Syria and Yemen.

On Tuesday, Kuwait said it was recalling its ambassador from Tehran, describing the attack on the Saudi Embassy as a “flagrant breach of international norms”.

Saudi allies Bahrain and Sudan broke off diplomatic relations with Iran on Monday and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has also downgraded its diplomatic team in Tehran.

On Monday, the UN Security Council issued a strongly worded statement condemning the attack on the Saudi Embassy – making no mention of the execution of Shia Muslim Cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and 46 others on terrorism charges.

At Least 11 Dead In Afghanistan Hercules Crash

afghanistanThere has been a fatal plane crash in Afghanistan where at least 11 people have died after a United States (US) Hercules aircraft crashed at Jalalabad Airport.

US Army Colonel, Brian Tribus says six of those killed worked for the US military, while the others were civilian contractors.

The C-130 is a military aircraft primarily used to carry troops and heavy cargo.

Taliban Spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter that the group shot down the plane, but US officials declined the statement saying there is no indication of such attack.

The US military said it is now investigating the cause of the accident.

The crash came as US planes worked alongside Afghan Forces, to try and recapture the northern city of Kunduz from the Taliban.

Blatter To Stay On As FIFA President

BlatterSepp Blatter says he will not stand down as FIFA President despite Swiss investigators opening criminal proceedings against him.

The 79-year-old is suspected of signing a contract that was “unfavourable to FIFA” and making a “disloyal payment” to UEFA President, Michel Platini.

But Blatter insists he “has done nothing illegal or improper”.

In a statement released through his lawyers, Blatter also said that the 1.5 million pounds payment made to Platini in 2011 was legitimate.

Platini Defends Sepp Blatter Payment

In a related development UEFA President, Michel Platini, has defended the payment made to him by FIFA President, Sepp Blatter.

In a statement released to the Union of European Football Associations, Platini said that the money was for legitimate work conducted for the world governing body.

Platini, who insists he has done nothing wrong, said that he would assist with further investigation whether they harm his image or not.

Despite Platini’s letter, Scottish FA Chief Executive, Stewart Regan, says the issue of the nine-year gap between work and payment needs to be explained.

Fifa’s Sepp Blatter Under Investigation In US

FifaFIFA President, Sepp Blatter is being investigated by US officials, as part of their inquiry into alleged corruption at the world football body, according to U.S. media.

The news came hours after the 79-year old Blatter announced that he was stepping down from his role as the President of FIFA.

US prosecutors launched a criminal inquiry last week, with seven FIFA officials arrested in Switzerland, part of a group of 14 people indicted.

The seven people arrested were: Jeffrey Webb, Eugenio Figueredo, Rafael Esquivel, Eduardo Li, Maria Marin, Julio Rocha and Costas Takkas.

Two days after the arrests, Blatter was re-elected president of FIFA.

On Tuesday, Blatter said that it appeared the mandate he had been given “does not seem to be supported by everybody in the world of football”.

He also said: “Fifa needs profound restructuring.” adding that he would remain in post until an extraordinary congress was called to elect a new President.

FIFA rules say the election is expected to take place between December 2015 and March 2016.