Islamic State chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. (Photo Credit: PTI file)
An extraordinarily well-placed informant is expected to receive some or all of the USD 25 million (approximaty Rs 177 crore) US bounty that had been placed on Islamic State chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's head, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday. Baghdadi's safe house in northwest Syria was stormed by special forces along with military working dogs and chased the world's most wanted terrorist leader as he tried to flee. He was cornered in a tunnel beneath the building.
US commandos zeroed in on Baghdadi's hideout with the help of an extraordinarily well-placed informant, an Islamic State operative who facilitated the terrorist leader's movements around Syria and even helped oversee construction work on his Syrian safe house, The Post reported, quoting US and Middle East-based officials knowledgeable about the raid on October 26.
The man, whose nationality had not been revealed, is expected to receive some or all of the USD 25 million US bounty that had been placed on Baghdadi's head, the report said, quoting the officials.
The mole's detailed knowledge of Baghdadi's whereabouts as well as the room-by-room layout of his sanctuary proved to be critical in the raid that ended with the death of the 48-year-old elusive terrorist, the officials said.
The informant was present during the assault on Baghdadi's compound in the Syrian province of Idlib, and he was exfiltrated from the region two days later with his family.
One official said he was a Sunni Arab who turned against the Islamic State because one of his relatives had been killed by the group.
The Islamic State defector was cultivated as an asset by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the predominantly Kurdish militia that became the ground troops for the US-led campaign to destroy the terrorist group's self-proclaimed caliphate in eastern Syria.
SDF leaders then handed control of the mole to US intelligence operatives, who spent weeks vetting him until they were sure he was genuine, the officials said.
Neither the Pentagon nor the White House has officially commented on the presence of a high-level mole inside the mission to kill or capture Baghdadi, it said.
The informant, who was described as a committed and even enthusiastic participant in the mission, provided essential personal details about the reclusive terrorist leader, including the fact that he always travelled with a suicide belt so he could kill himself if cornered.
The report also said that Baghdadi's head was apparently intact after the explosion, and US operators were convinced of his identity even before a field DNA test was conducted for confirmation, one official said.
One of the commandos radioed his impressions.
"Looking at him. This is Baghdadi," the operator said, according to the official. "Jackpot."