A top US general has blamed leaks to the New York Times for giving ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi the ability to evade American forces seeking to kill him.
General Raymond ‘Tony’ Thomas, who leads Special Operations Command, said Friday at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado that his teams were ‘particularly close’ to al-Baghdadi after a 2015 raid, Fox News reported.
That operation, a Delta Force commando raid in eastern Syria, killed ISIS oil minister Abu Sayyaf and captured his wife, yielding a trove of information about the terror group’s operations and logistics.
‘That was a very good lead. Unfortunately, it was leaked in a prominent national newspaper about a week later and that lead went dead,’ said Thomas, in an apparent reference to a New York Times report about the raid from June 2015.
That report read in part: ‘New insights yielded by the seized trove — four to seven terabytes of data, according to one official — include how the organization’s shadowy leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, operates and tries to avoid being tracked by coalition forces.’
The New York Times report even detailed knowledge gained about al-Baghdadi’s security precautions for meeting and communicating with his lieutenants, including the use of wives to pass messages.
‘The challenge we have [is] in terms of where and how our tactics and procedures are discussed openly,’ Thomas said.
‘There’s a great need to inform the American public about what we’re up to. There’s also great need to recognize things that will absolutely undercut our ability to do our job,’ he continued.
President Donald Trump seized on the remarks early Saturday morning, tweeting: ‘The Failing New York Times foiled U.S. attempt to kill the single most wanted terrorist,Al-Baghdadi.Their sick agenda over National Security’.