World will not miss Islamic State leader al-Baghdadi, says Defence Secretary

The Defence Secretary has said the “world will not miss” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of so-called Islamic State, who blew himself up after a US military operation in Syria.

President Donald Trump confirmed on Sunday that al-Baghdadi ran into a dead-end tunnel and ignited an explosive vest, killing himself and three of his young children after being surrounded by specialist forces.

Speaking in the White House’s Diplomatic Room, Mr Trump said IS figurehead died as “a coward, running and crying”.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said he welcomed the US action against what was arguably the world’s most wanted man.

“Isis is one of the most murderous terrorist organisations of our generation,” said the Cabinet minister.

“Their leaders have twisted Islam to groom thousands of people into joining their evil cause. I welcome the action that has been taken.

“The world will not miss al-Baghdadi.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “The death of Baghdadi is an important moment in our fight against terror but the battle against the evil of Daesh is not yet over.

“We will work with our coalition partners to bring an end to the murderous, barbaric activities of Daesh once and for all.”

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said it was important not to “allow Daesh to glorify” its dead leader.

He said: “Following the death of Daesh’s leader, we must not allow Daesh to glorify someone who actioned such inhumane & abhorrent criminal acts.

“The UK will continue to support efforts to #DefeatDaesh.”

Mr Trump watched the raid on al-Baghdadi’s home from the White House.

He said viewing it was “as though you were watching a movie”, according to foreign news agency Associated Press.

The president said the IS leader had been under surveillance for several weeks.

He said that during the raid, US forces “flew low and fast, and were met with gunfire at points”.

No American personnel were lost in the encounter, he said.

Donald Trump briefs the media
Donald Trump briefs the media (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Tackling al-Baghdadi’s was one of the Trump administration’s top national security priorities.

The announcement came as the president has been on the receiving end of global criticism following the recent pullback of US troops from north-eastern Syria.

Critics fear the move will allow the militant group to regain strength after it had lost vast stretches of territory it had once controlled.

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