A former associate of slain Islamic State (ISIS) chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi told Saudi Arabia’s Al Arabiya news network that the group lost $25 million by hiding it in the desert in an interview published on Monday.
Mohammed Ali Sajet, currently under Iraqi custody and reportedly cooperating with authorities, told the network that al-Baghdadi had “excellent” hiding tactics. He had become increasingly desperate to flee his hideout on the Syrian-Iraqi border before American special forces caught him closer to the Syria-Turkey border, near Idlib, but he “didn’t know how” to relocate.
“He was in an eight-meter long underground tunnel with a width of five to six meters. It had a library, religious books, and the Quran,” he continued. “The hiding situation was good.”
“He was in an eight-meter long underground tunnel with a width of five to six meters … the hiding situation was good,” says Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s companion to Al Arabiya in an exclusive interview after the ISIS leader’s death in a US operation.https://t.co/YNg0bji2CG pic.twitter.com/aBBdIeni5z
— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) October 27, 2019
Asked about the caliphate’s financial situation, Sajet also claimed that the caliphate’s leaders, including himself, helped bury dollars, gold, and silver in the al-Anbar desert. He added that local shepherds dug up around $25 million, lost to the jihadist group forever.
Sajet is among a number of al-Baghdadi’s confidants who Al Arabiya claims helped turn him over to U.S. and Iraqi authorities. Another fellow aide, Ismael Ethawi, also provided vital information that led to his assassination.
“Ethawi gave valuable information which helped the Iraqi multi-security agencies team complete the missing pieces of the puzzle of Baghdadi’s movements and places he used to hide,” an Iraqi security official told Reuters. “[He] gave us details on five men, including him, whom were meeting Baghdadi inside Syria and the different locations they used.”
In a televised statement from the White House on Sunday morning, Trump announced that al-Baghdadi had “died like a dog [and a] coward,” declaring that the world would now be a “much safer place.”
“Last night, the United States brought the world’s number one terrorist leader to justice,” Trump said. “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead. He was the founder and leader of ISIS, the most ruthless and violent terror organization anywhere in the world.”
“He died after running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering and crying and screaming all the way,” Trump said, describing the raid as “absolutely perfect.”