Defense official says ISIS leader al-Baghdadi 'whimpering' and 'crying' before his death sounds like something Trump 'made up'

popular

VIDEO: President Donald Trump announces death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

In front of a crowd in Tupelo, Mississippi, on Friday President Donald Trump once again asserted that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was "trembling" and "crying" before his death.

But defense officials say they don't know where that claim came from.


Several Defense Department officials told The New York Times, on the condition of anonymity, that they were not aware of evidence or after-action reports that support details told in president's account of the terrorist leader's death. The Times reported that the drone footage of the operation that Trump watched in the Situation Room had no audio.

"I don't know how he would know that," one senior official who is "deeply familiar" with the matter told The Times. "It sounds like something he made up."

When asked about the defense officials' statements, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham interpreted it as "trying to pick apart the details of the death," The Times reported. She added in an email to the newspaper, "We are not going to get into any of the operational details of how the president receives information."

"Is it not possible to just celebrate that a terrorist, murderer, and rapist has been killed?" she asked to The Times.

Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr., the head of U.S. Central Command, told reporters this week that he was "not able to confirm anything else" about Baghdadi's last moments.

"We believe Baghdadi actually may have fired from his hole in his last moments," he added.

Trump first made the comments that al-Baghdadi was "whimpering" and "crying" and "died like a coward" on October 27, but The Times was not able to corroborate those details with officials familiar with the military operation.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who monitored the raid in the Situation Room with Trump, told The Times he didn't know anything about al-Baghdadi "whimpering." Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was also not aware of that detail, The Times said.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Central Command released footage of the operation. Business Insider's David Choi reported that during the raid that left al-Baghdadi dead, "no U.S. soldiers were killed during the operation, but a military working dog was injured by live electrical cables after al-Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest in a tunnel."

Trump also mentioned the military dog during his Friday-night rally in Mississippi, joking that the dog (named Conan), got more positive press than he did following the raid.

Presidential historian Mark Updegrove, told The Times that he thinks Trump "has to continue to add to the inherent drama of the moment, not only bragging about the despot being brought to justice but happening in the most humiliating way."

"He can't help himself," Updegrove said of the president.

Al-Baghdadi, who was believed to have been 48 years old, died on October 26, during a raid by Delta Force commandos. He had assumed leadership of ISIS in 2010 after the death of two of his predecessors.

Read more from Business Insider:

Two Air Force pararescue Airmen were awarded the Silver Star Medal on Friday for saving dozens of lives during separate Afghan battles in 2018 and 2019.

Tech Sgt. Gavin Fisher and Staff Sgt. Daniel Swensen both received the third highest military award for their bravery. Fisher also received the Purple Heart for wounds received in combat.

Read More Show Less
Chinese President Xi Jinping reviews the honor guards of the Chinese People's Liberation (PLA) Navy before boarding the destroyer Xining for the naval parade celebrating the 70th founding anniversary of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy in Qingdao, Shandong province, China April 23, 2019. Xinhua via REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government covertly moved to expel two officials from the Chinese embassy earlier this year, after they drove onto a military base, the New York Times reported, citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter.

The newspaper reported on Sunday that one of the two Chinese officials is believed to be an intelligence officer operating under diplomatic cover.

The Chinese officials breached security at a base in Virginia this fall, and only stopped driving after fire trucks were used to block their path, the Times said.

Read More Show Less

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

President Donald Trump is set to announce the withdrawal of roughly 4,000 US troops from Afghanistan as early as next week, NBC News reported on Saturday based on conversations with three current and former officials.

This would come as the US is engaged in ongoing, troubled peace talks with the Taliban. The talks resumed in early December after Trump abruptly scrapped negotiations with the Taliban in September, only to be paused again this week after an attack near Bagram Airfield on Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
Photo: National Archives

Thomas Hoke can still recall the weather in December 1944, and the long days that followed.

The battle started on Dec. 16, but his company arrived Dec. 27 and would stay there until the battle's end, nearly a month later. By the time he arrived, snow had blanketed Germany in what was one of the biggest storms the country had seen in years.

"It was 20 below and a heavy fog encompassed the whole area," Hoke, 96, recalled from his Emmitsburg home.

The fog was to Germany's advantage because Allied aircraft were grounded, including recognizance flights, allowing the Nazis to slip in.

Read More Show Less

West Point is investigating a hand gesture made by several cadets and midshipmen during an ESPN pre-game broadcast at the Army-Navy game Saturday after clips of the signals went viral because of their association with white power.

"West Point is looking into the matter," a spokesperson said in an emailed statement. "At this time we do not know the intent of the cadets."

Read More Show Less