On June 8, 2006, then-U.S. President George W. Bush announced the killing of the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) Abu Musab al-Zarqawi by U.S. military forces.
"Zarqawi's death is a severe blow to al-Qaida. It's a victory in the global war on terror, and it is an opportunity for Iraq's new government to turn the tide of this struggle," Bush said.
"Special operation forces, acting on tips and intelligence from Iraqis, confirmed Zarqawi's location, and delivered justice to the most wanted terrorist in Iraq," stated Bush in the Rose Garden of the White House.
The U.S. military said al-Zarqawi was killed by a joint U.S. force on June 7, 2006, when U.S. fighter jets dropped two 230-kilogram bombs on an isolated safe house in a small village near Baquba, which is 100 kilometers north of Baghdad.
At a press conference in Baghdad, the U.S. military showed an alleged photo of al-Zarqawi's body. They also displayed the location of al-Zarqawi before the bombing. They said he tried to flee in his dying moments.
The leader of AQI was buried at a marked but secret location in Iraq. The U.S. ignored demands for his body to be repatriated to Jordan. Al-Zarqawi was a Jordanian.
Bush also said during his announcement that Zarqawi was dead but "the difficult and necessary mission in Iraq continues" as the AQI could carry on without him. The terror group did. They quickly named Abu Ayyub al-Masri as Zarqawi's successor. AQI was going to be the roots of the notorious terror organization in Daesh in seven years.
On May 2, 2011, former U.S. President Barack Obama made a dramatic late-night appearance in the East Room of the White Hose, and said Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaida, was located by the U.S. military and the CIA, and killed in a nighttime raid on a compound in Abbottabad, in northeastern Pakistan.
Bin Laden was the mastermind of 9/11 and the most hunted man in the world then. Obama said that "justice has been done" as they finally cornered him, the leader of al-Qaida, who eluded them for a decade.
The U.S. officials said bin Laden resisted in his dying moments. They said his body was taken from the compound where he was hiding to Afghanistan after the raid and he was buried at sea within 24 hours of his death. The U.S. never showed a photo of him in death.
Following bin Laden's death, Pakistan's Prime Minister said that they will not allow Pakistan's soil to be used against any other country for terrorism even though he congratulated the success of the operation. The U.S. didn't inform Pakistan officials before the raid, and it was an "unauthorized unilateral action." The public in Pakistan as well as the political figures also disapproved the U.S.' unilateral operation and more than half of the Pakistanis still disbelieve that Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad.
In 2012, Pakistan demolished the compound where bin Laden is said to have been killed.
"For over two decades, bin Laden has been al-Qaida's leader and symbol," Obama said in his statement.
"The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation's effort to defeat al-Qaida. But his death does not mark the end of our effort. There's no doubt that al-Qaida will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must and we will remain vigilant at home and abroad," he added.
He was right. Ayman al-Zawahiri succeeded bin Laden following his death. He is still the leader of al-Qaida, the terror organization that the U.S. has been fighting for almost two decades.
After hundreds of drone attacks and military operations, Obama was later going to admit that they achieved a great success the al-Qaida central structured — which did not really happen — but they underestimated the growing branches of terrorist organizations such as Daesh.
Trump's al-Baghdadi staements
On Oct. 27, 2019, current U.S. President Donald Trump announced the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the world's top terrorist leader, in an unusual morning statement in the White House. He said, "He died like a dog. He died like a coward," referring to Baghdadi.
Trump described the operation in his own way with extraordinary details, saying that, al-Baghdadi died in a dead-end tunnel "whimpering and crying and screaming."
He said al-Baghdadi blew himself up during the night-time operation by the U.S. special forces in his heavily fortified safe house.
The blast, which resulted in the collapse of the tunnel, mutilated al-Baghdadi's body but an on-site DNA test confirmed his identity, Trump said. The remains were buried at sea, according to the U.S. military. So, once again, there is no body of a terror organization's leader, and there is no picture of al-Baghdadi in death.
"The thug who tried so hard to intimidate others spent his last moments in utter fear, in total panic and dread, terrified of the American forces bearing down on him", the U.S. president stressed.
The village of Barisha in Idlib province, where he was located, was far from where Baghdadi had been thought to be hiding along the Syria-Iraq border. Many parts of Idlib are under control of radical groups. The Pentagon later released footage of the U.S. military raid that bombarded the compound and killed the Daesh leader.
Daesh confirmed that their leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his spokesman had died five days after Trump's announcement. Daesh's new leader is Abu Ibrahim al Hashemi al -Quraishi. In their statement, the terrorist group also promised revenge against the U.S. So it looks like nothing has changed on the terror organization's side.
Obviously, the killing of Baghdadi is a success for Trump who is now in trouble with an impeachment inquiry. However, not only the public in Iraq and Syria who suffered most from the brutality of Daesh, but also people all around the world, have given different responses. In fact, there has been disbelief more than joy.
The pattern of the killing of Baghdadi was the same as Zarqawi and bin Laden. Once again, a bloody terrorist leader was killed in a unilateral operation and no one saw the body. People today think that every president kills one of the al-Qaida leaders giving similar details and nothing changes afterwards.
The conspiracy over U.S. raids
Too many conspiracy theories are still circulating on social media after the U.S. raid in Syria. Of course, people are happy with the news of the killing of Baghdadi but many are also questioning the details. Some do not believe that he died at all, or that he even ever existed.
Was he used as a tool? Was he just a poster boy? Was he killed when the U.S. did not need him any more? Was he taken to another place? Was there really a person named Baghdadi? Or was he invented by the U.S.?
These are some of the questions people on social media ask. It looks like the killings of the al-Qaida leaders are now just a tale for many in the world. The allegations and the theories against the U.S. operation shows the depth of the distrust of the U.S. government. Even the Americans do not trust what the U.S. government says. According to polls, the trust toward Washington is collapsing, while the public opinion in the U.S.-allied countries is showing the same results.
You may think that Trump has damaged the U.S. standing in the world in his three years presidency. But no, he is just the last straw. People no longer believe that the U.S. is the champion of the free world. According to them, the U.S. has always been running the world in line with its own interests and it doesn't even care about its allies' safety and security. The presidents are just playing their different roles but the U.S.' selfish policies never change. Even people in Europe, which is the leading ally of the U.S., are now overwhelmingly favoring staying away from rather than siding with the U.S. in global affairs. The reactions over the killing of Baghdadi is just one sign of the global distrust in the U.S., the country which is so-called the ruler of the world.
The killing of Zarqawi by the Bush administration was not the end of al-Qaida in Iraq. It grew from the swamp, which is mostly the result of the U.S.' failed politics in the Middle East, and turned into a more violent terror organization, namely Daesh.
The death of bin Laden during Obama's presidency was not the end of al-Qaida. The terror group spread into the world and its branches such as Daesh, Boko Haram, and so forth stormed the world with their horrific terror attacks in different continents. The U.S. once again failed in its war on terror strategy.
And today, nobody believes that Daesh will end after the death of Baghdadi. The terror group will stay alive and transform itself into a more dangerous organization, according to some theories. More interestingly, people believe that the new Daesh will also be useful for the U.S. with regards to its upcoming Middle East policy.