ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi posed as a wealthy cloth merchant while hiding in Syria before he was betrayed by a security official out for revenge, it is claimed.
Kurdish SDF commander Mazloum Abdi said the official began cooperating because he was angry about ISIS’s ‘harsh’ treatment of his family, and wanted to hit back.
Abdi said the man is an Arab who ‘has many relatives in ISIS’, but ‘no longer believed in the future of [the terror group]’ and decided to feed Baghdadi’s location to the US.
The extremist cleric blew himself up inside a compound near the village of Barisha, in Syria’s Idlib province, during a raid by American forces at the weekend.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was betrayed by a top official in charge of his security who was out for revenge for the ‘harsh’ treatment of his family by ISIS, the Kurds have claimed
The security official was regularly called for face-to-face meetings with Baghdadi at his compound, and while he was never allowed to learn the exact location, he was able feed enough information to the US for them to locate it
Baghdadi blew himself up using a suicide vest as American forces attacked the compound, in Idlib province in northern Syria, at the weekend
Locals told Turkish news site Daily Sabah that until US troops showed up, they believed Baghdadi was a wealthy cloth merchant hiding from the war with his family.
Abu Ahmed Barisha, who lives in the town, said he believed Baghdadi was part of a migrant family, moving themselves from location to location to avoid conflict.
The terror leader’s true identity was known only to a tight-nit group of people, including the security official working with Abdi and the Kurds, he told NBC.
Abdi wouldn’t reveal how or when exactly he first made contact with the official, but said his cooperation deepened significantly in the last five months.
The move coincided with Baghdadi’s move from an area of eastern Syria to Idlib, which was confirmed in April of this year.
Abdi said that, from that point on, the official steadily drip-fed information to his forces about the new compound, allowing the US to pinpoint it.
The official was never told the location, and was always taken to it in the back of a car or taxi by Baghdadi’s bodyguards.
Kurdish SDF commander Mazloum Abdi said he had been in touch with the ISIS spy since at least April, when Baghdadi was first moved to the Idlib compound
While most people were blindfolded for the journey, he was allowed to look out of the window at least in the initial stages of the drive.
At a certain point, Abdi said, the official was made to lower his chair and lay down, looking up at the car roof.
But he was still able to distinguish whether he was driving through a village, forest or open ground, the SDF commander said.
Once inside the compound itself he was allowed to look around freely, identifying several points of interest including a red water tank on the roof, which were then used to pinpoint the exact location.
The meetings were regular but erratic, Abdi claimed, saying the official had to wait to be summoned by Baghdadi before being granted an audience.
Locals living near the compound said they knew Baghdadi as a wealthy cloth merchant who was hiding from the war with his family
The Pentagon has released segments of video which show how troops approached the compound while unmanned aerial vehicles bombarded it from the skies
Kurdish forces said that Baghdadi was preparing to move to another compound within 48 hours of the US raid, which they did not know the location of
However, those face-to-face meetings – usually to discuss security arrangements at the compound – proved vital to the US raid.
Abdi said the informant was able to describe a room-by-room layout of the terror leader’s compound on the Turkish border, including the number of guards, floor plan and tunnels.
He was also on hand at the compound in Idlib, northwest Syria, when US Special Ops forces raided the safe house to confront the terrorist leader.
The US has confirmed that the informant will now likely receive part or all of the $25million bounty on Baghdadi’s head.
It came as the Pentagon released footage showing the raid that resulted in the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
The approximate location of the compound where Baghdadi was hiding, according to the US
Baghdadi is pictured in 2014 giving a speech from the Al Nuri mosque in which he declared the so-called ISIS Caliphate
Marine Corps General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr, commander of U.S. Central Command, released the footage at a press conference on Wednesday at the Pentagon.
McKenzie was the operational commander of the Delta Force raid, which took place on Saturday in northwest Syria, and resulted in the death of Baghdadi after the terror leader detonated a suicide vest to avoid capture.
The general clarified that Baghdadi killed two of his own young children in the blast, not three as the breach force initially believed. McKenzie said both children were thought to be under the age of 12.
‘Baghdadi was the subject of an intense inter-agency effort to bring him to justice, and that effort significantly advanced recently as we closed in on his whereabouts,’ McKenzie said in a statement.
‘As it became clear that we had gained fleeting and actionable intelligence on his hideout, we developed an execution level plan designed to capture or kill him and started preparing a special operations team for the mission,’ he added.
Video of the Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi raid is displayed as U.S. Central Command Commander Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie speaks