Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 7 December 2019

Baghdadi’s ISIS replacement in America's crosshairs, says Trump

The US president said that with terrorist group's top two leaders dead, number three would be next

US President Donald Trump speaks at the Eternal Light Monument in Madison Square Park during the Veteran's Day parade in New York. Bloomberg
US President Donald Trump speaks at the Eternal Light Monument in Madison Square Park during the Veteran's Day parade in New York. Bloomberg

US President Donald Trump marked Veterans’ Day on Monday by celebrating the operation to kill ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi and said that the group’s new leader was firmly in America’s crosshairs.

While US presidents traditionally mark the day by laying a wreath at the vast Arlington military cemetery outside Washington, Mr Trump travelled to New York where he made an address before the city's annual parade of veterans.

Mr Trump was widely criticised after announcing a full withdrawal of US troops from Syria last month, with opponents and even some allies saying it could allow ISIS to rebuild. It also leaves US-allied Kurdish fighters vulnerable to an ongoing Turkish invasion.

But Mr Trump used his speech in New York to claim that the ISIS leadership was running scared after Al Baghdadi's death. The ISIS leader was killed in a raid in the north-west Syrian province of Idlib on October 26.

"Just a few weeks ago, American special forces raided the ISIS compound and brought the world's number one terrorist leader to justice," he said.

"Thanks to American warriors, Al Baghdadi is dead, his second in charge is dead, we have our eyes on number three.

"His reign of terror is over, and we have our enemies running very, very scared. Those who threaten our people don't stand a chance against the righteous might of the American military."

After the death of Al Baghdadi and ISIS’s main spokesman, Abu Hassan Al Muhajir, in a raid the following day, the organisation named the little known Abu Ibrahim Al Hashimi Al Quraishi as its new leader.

Following the uproar over his announcement of a full troop withdrawal, Mr Trump said that he would leave some troops in the region to protect valuable oilfields.

Gen Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview at the weekend that US troop levels in northern Syria would probably stabilise around 500.

Mr Trump got a cool reception from some in New York, a staunchly Democratic city.

In one of the glass office towers looming above Madison Square Park where he spoke, large letters were taped to a row of windows spelling out, "IMPEACH," and, several floors above, "CONVICT."

Anti-Trump banners were suspended from overlooking apartment windows as he kicked off the parade and people on the street chanted "lock him up."

Updated: November 12, 2019 01:44 PM

SHARE

SHARE