President Obama’s remarks following Bin Laden raid
11:35 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.
It was nearly 10 years ago that a bright September day was darkened by the worst attack on the American people in our history. The images of 9/11 are seared into our national memory — hijacked planes cutting through a cloudless September sky; the Twin Towers collapsing to the ground; black smoke billowing up from the Pentagon; the wreckage of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where the actions of heroic citizens saved even more heartbreak and destruction.
And yet we know that the worst images are those that were unseen to the world. The empty seat at the dinner table. Children who were forced to grow up without their mother or their father. Parents who would never know the feeling of their child’s embrace. Nearly 3,000 citizens taken from us, leaving a gaping hole in our hearts.
On September 11, 2001, in our time of grief, the American people came together. We offered our neighbors a hand, and we offered the wounded our blood. We reaffirmed our ties to each other, and our love of community and country. On that day, no matter where we came from, what God we prayed to, or what race or ethnicity we were, we were united as one American family.
We were also united in our resolve to protect our nation and to bring those who committed this vicious attack to justice. We quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda — an organization headed by Osama bin Laden, which had openly declared war on the United States and was committed to killing innocents in our country and around the globe. And so we went to war against al Qaeda to protect our citizens, our friends, and our allies.
Over the last 10 years, thanks to the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals, we’ve made great strides in that effort. We’ve disrupted terrorist attacks and strengthened our homeland defense. In Afghanistan, we removed the Taliban government, which had given bin Laden and al Qaeda safe haven and support. And around the globe, we worked with our friends and allies to capture or kill scores of al Qaeda terrorists, including several who were a part of the 9/11 plot.
Yet Osama bin Laden avoided capture and escaped across the Afghan border into Pakistan. Meanwhile, al Qaeda continued to operate from along that border and operate through its affiliates across the world.
And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network.
Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan. And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.
Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.
For over two decades, bin Laden has been al Qaeda’s leader and symbol, and has continued to plot attacks against our country and our friends and allies. The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al Qaeda.
Yet his death does not mark the end of our effort. There’s no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must –- and we will — remain vigilant at home and abroad.
As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not –- and never will be -– at war with Islam. I’ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.
Over the years, I’ve repeatedly made clear that we would take action within Pakistan if we knew where bin Laden was. That is what we’ve done. But it’s important to note that our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding. Indeed, bin Laden had declared war against Pakistan as well, and ordered attacks against the Pakistani people.
Tonight, I called President Zardari, and my team has also spoken with their Pakistani counterparts. They agree that this is a good and historic day for both of our nations. And going forward, it is essential that Pakistan continue to join us in the fight against al Qaeda and its affiliates.
The American people did not choose this fight. It came to our shores, and started with the senseless slaughter of our citizens. After nearly 10 years of service, struggle, and sacrifice, we know well the costs of war. These efforts weigh on me every time I, as Commander-in-Chief, have to sign a letter to a family that has lost a loved one, or look into the eyes of a service member who’s been gravely wounded.
So Americans understand the costs of war. Yet as a country, we will never tolerate our security being threatened, nor stand idly by when our people have been killed. We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies. We will be true to the values that make us who we are. And on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al Qaeda’s terror: Justice has been done.
Tonight, we give thanks to the countless intelligence and counterterrorism professionals who’ve worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome. The American people do not see their work, nor know their names. But tonight, they feel the satisfaction of their work and the result of their pursuit of justice.
We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation, for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism, and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country. And they are part of a generation that has borne the heaviest share of the burden since that September day.
Finally, let me say to the families who lost loved ones on 9/11 that we have never forgotten your loss, nor wavered in our commitment to see that we do whatever it takes to prevent another attack on our shores.
And tonight, let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11. I know that it has, at times, frayed. Yet today’s achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people.
The cause of securing our country is not complete. But tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history, whether it’s the pursuit of prosperity for our people, or the struggle for equality for all our citizens; our commitment to stand up for our values abroad, and our sacrifices to make the world a safer place.
Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Thank you. May God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.
END 11:44 P.M. EDT
President Trump’s press conference after al-Baghdadi’s death
Donald Trump: (00:21)
Last night, the United States brought the world’s number one terrorist leader to justice. 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. The United States has been searching for Baghdadi for many years. Capturing or killing Baghdadi has been the top national security priority of my administration.
Donald Trump: (00:57)
US special operations forces executed a dangerous and daring nighttime raid in northwestern Syria and accomplished their mission in grand style. The US personnel were incredible. I got to watch much of it. No personnel were lost in the operation, while a large number of Baghdadi’s fighters and companions were killed with him. He died after running into a dead end tunnel, whimpering and crying and screaming all the way.
Donald Trump: (01:39)
The compound had been cleared by this time with people either surrendering or being shot and killed. 11 young children were moved out of the house and are uninjured. The only ones remaining were Baghdadi in the tunnel, and he had dragged three of his young children with him. They were led to certain death. He reached the end of the tunnel as our dogs chased him down. He ignited his vest killing himself and the three children. His body was mutilated by the blast. The tunnel had caved in on it in addition, but test results gave certain, immediate, and totally positive identification. It was him. 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. We were in the compound for approximately two hours, and after the mission was accomplished, we took highly sensitive material and information from the raid, much having to do with ISIS origins, future plans, things that we very much want.
Donald Trump: (03:19)
Baghdadi’s demise demonstrates America’s relentless pursuit of terrorist leaders and our commitment to the enduring and total defeat of ISIS and other terrorist organizations. Our reach is very long. As you know, last month we announced that we recently killed Hamza bin Laden, the very violent son of Osama bin Laden, who was saying very bad things about people, about our country, about the world. He was the heir apparent to Al-Qaida. Terrorists who oppress and murder innocent people should never sleep soundly, knowing that we will completely destroy them. These savage monsters will not escape their fate and they will not escape the final judgment of God. Baghdadi has been on the run for many years, long before I took office, but in my direction as Commander in Chief of the United States, we obliterated his caliphate 100% in March of this year.
Donald Trump: (04:42)
Today’s events are another reminder that we will continue to pursue the remaining ISIS terrorists to their brutal end. That also goes for other terrorist organizations. They are likewise in our sites. Baghdadi and the losers who worked for him, and losers they are. They had no idea what they were getting into. In some cases, they were very frightened puppies. In other cases, they were hardcore killers, but they killed many, many people. Their murder of innocent Americans James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig, and Kayla Mueller were especially heinous. The shocking publicized murder of Jordanian pilot, a wonderful young man, spoke to the King of Jordan. They all knew him. They all loved him. He was burned alive in a cage for all to see, and the execution of Christians in Libya and Egypt as well as the genocidal mass murder of Yazidis rank ISIS among the most deprived organizations, the history of our world. The forced religious conversions, the orange suits prior to so many beheadings, all of which were openly displayed for the world to see. This was all that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, this is what he wanted. This is what he was proud of. He was a sick and depraved man, and now he’s gone. Baghdadi was vicious and violent, and he died in a vicious and violent way as a coward, running and crying.
Donald Trump: (07:04)
This raid was impeccable and could only have taken place with the acknowledgement and help of certain other nations and people. I want to thank the nations of Russia, Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, and I also want to thank the Syrian Kurds for certain support they were able to give us. This was a very, very dangerous mission. Thank you as well to the great intelligence professionals who helped make this very successful journey possible. I want to thank the soldiers and sailors, airmen and Marines involved in last night’s operation. You are the very best there is anywhere in the world, no matter where you go. There is nobody even close. I want to thank General Mark Milley and our joint chiefs of staff, and I also want to thank our professionals who work in other agencies of the United States government and were critical to the missions. Unbelievable success.
Donald Trump: (08:18)
Last night was a great night for the United States and for the world. A brutal killer one who has caused so much hardship and death has violently been eliminated. He will never again harm another innocent man, woman, or child. He died like a dog. He died like a coward. The world is now a much safer place. God bless America. Thank you.
Donald Trump: (08:54)
Speaker 2: (08:55)
When did you first hear about that this was an operation that was going to get started?
Donald Trump: (08:59)
We’ve had him under surveillance for a couple of weeks. We knew a little bit about where he was going, where he was heading. We had very good information that he was going to another location he didn’t go. Two or three efforts were canceled because he decided to change his mind, constantly changing his mind. And finally we saw that he was here, held up here. We knew something about the compound. We knew it had tunnels. The tunnels were dead end for the most part. There was one we think that wasn’t, but we had that covered, too, just in case. The level of intelligence, the level of work was was pretty amazing. When we landed with eight helicopters, a large crew of brilliant fighters ran out of those helicopters and blew holes into the side of the building, not wanting to go through the main door because that was booby trapped.
Donald Trump: (10:03)
And there was something … it was something really amazing to see. I got to watch it along with General Milley, Vice President Pence, others in the situation room, and we watched it so clearly.
Speaker 3: (10:22)
How did you watch it?
Donald Trump: (10:23)
Well, I don’t want to say how, but we had absolutely perfect as though you were watching a movie. It was a … that in the technology there alone is really great. A big part of the trip that was of great danger was the … it was approximately an hour and 10 minute flight and we were flying over very, very dangerous territory. In fact, some of our leaders said that that could be the most dangerous flying in and flying out, and that’s why last night we were so quiet about it. We didn’t say anything and I didn’t make my remark until after they had landed safely in a certain area. But the flight in, the flight out was a very, very dangerous part. There was a chance that we would have met unbelievable fire.
Donald Trump: (11:16)
Russia treated us great. They opened up. We had to fly over certain Russia areas, Russia-held areas. Russia was great. Iraq was excellent. We really had a great cooperation, and you have to understand they didn’t know what we were doing and where we were going exactly, but the ISIS fighters are hated as much by Russia and some of these other countries as they are by us, and that’s why I say they should start doing a lot of the fighting now, and they’ll be able to. I really believe they’ll be able to. Yes, Jennifer.
Could you say what role the Kurds played in this just generally?
Donald Trump: (11:58)
They gave us not a military role at all, but they gave us some information that turned out to be helpful, the Kurds.
Speaker 4: (12:04)
Could you tell us what the role of Turkey might have been, and Iraq.
Donald Trump: (12:09)
Speaker 4: (12:09)
What was the role of Turkey? How did they help?
Donald Trump: (12:12)
Turkey, we dealt with them. They knew we were going in. We flew over some territory. They were terrific. No problem. They were not problem. They could start shooting and then we will take them out, but a lot of bad things can happen, plus it was a very secret mission. We flew very, very low and very, very fast. [crosstalk 00:12:36] But it was a big, it was a very dangerous part of the mission getting in and getting out, too. Equal. We went in in identical, we took an identical route. We met with gunfire coming in, but it was local gunfire. That gunfire was immediately terminated. These people are amazing. They had the gunfire terminated immediately, meaning they were shot from the airships.
Speaker 4: (13:02)
I’m trying to understand the timing. You talked earlier, several weeks about pulling troops out and then troops would go back in, and I’m trying to understand the timing of when this operation-
Donald Trump: (13:14)
Well, I’ll tell you. The first day I came to office, and now we’re getting close to three years, I would say, “Where’s al-Baghdadi? I want al-Baghdadi.” And we would kill terrorist leaders, but they were names I’d never heard of. They were names that weren’t recognizable and they weren’t the big names. Some good ones, some important ones, but they weren’t the big names. I kept saying, “Where’s al-Baghdadi?” And a couple of weeks ago they were able to scope him out.
Donald Trump: (13:45)
These people are very smart. They’re not into the use of cell phones anymore. They’re not … they’re very technically brilliant. They use the Internet better than almost anybody in the world, perhaps other than Donald Trump, but they use the Internet incredibly well and what they’ve done with the Internet through recruiting and everything, and that’s why he died like a dog. He died like a coward. He was whimpering, screaming, and crying, and frankly I think it’s something that should be brought out so that his followers and all of these young kids that want to leave various countries, including the United States, they should see how he died. He didn’t die a hero. He died a coward crying, whimpering, screaming, and bringing three kids with him to die. Certain death, and he knew the tunnel had no end. I mean, it was a closed … closed-end … they call it a closed-end tunnel. Not a good place to be.
Speaker 5: (14:49)
So this was going on before you made the announcement that you’re-
Donald Trump: (14:50)
I’ve been looking for him for three years. I’ve been looking for him. I started getting some very positive feedback about a month ago, and we had some incredible intelligence officials that did a great job. That’s what they should be focused on that.
Speaker 6: (15:06)
About what time did this operation start yesterday, sir? And did you, have you notified [crosstalk 00:15:10]-
Donald Trump: (15:10)
Well, this operation started two weeks ago in terms of the real operation because we had him scoped. We thought he’d be in a certain location. He was. Things started checking out very well. We were involved in on our own team with some brilliant people who I’ve gotten to know, brilliant people that love our country, highly intelligent people, and we’ve had it pretty well scoped out for a couple of weeks, but he tends to change immediately. He had a lot of cash. He tends to change on a dime where he’ll be going to a certain location. All of a sudden he’ll go someplace else and you’ll have to cancel.
Donald Trump: (15:53)
But this was one where we knew he was there, and you can never be 100% sure because you’re basing it on technology more than anything else. But we thought he was there and then we got a confirmation, and when we went in they were greeted with a lot of firepower, a lot of fire firepower. I’ll tell you, these guys, they do a job. They are so brave and so good, and so importantly, many of his people were killed and we’ll announce the exact number over the next 24 hours, but many were killed. We lost nobody. Think of that. It’s incredible.
Speaker 7: (16:35)
When you told the Russians you requested-
Donald Trump: (16:37)
Our dog was hurt, actually. The canine was hurt. Went into the tunnel, but we lost nobody.
Speaker 7: (16:45)
When you requested to the Russians to fly over this area they controlled, what did you tell-
Donald Trump: (16:50)
We spoke to the Russians.
Speaker 7: (16:51)
What did you tell them?
Donald Trump: (16:52)
We told them we’re coming in, and they said, “Thank you for telling us.” They were very good.
Speaker 8: (17:00)
But did you tell them why? [inaudible 00:17:01]
Donald Trump: (17:01)
No, they did not know why.
Speaker 8: (17:03)
Speaker 9: (17:03)
But did you tell them why? No, you just-
Donald Trump: (17:03)
No, I they did not know why.
Speaker 9: (17:04)
Was any other-
Donald Trump: (17:04)
We did tell them, “We think you’re going to be very happy.” Because again, they hate ISIS as much as we do, you know what ISIS has done to Russia? So no, we did not tell. They did not know the mission, but they knew we were going over an area that they had a lot of firepower.
Speaker 10: (17:23)
And have you notified the congressional leaders about this, Pelosi [crosstalk 00:17:28]
Donald Trump: (17:28)
We’ve notified some others are being notified now as I speak. We were going to notify them last night, but we decided not to do that because Washington leaks like I’d never seen before. There’s no country in the world that leaks like we do and Washington is a leaking machine. And I told my people we will not notify them until our great people are out. Not just in but out. I don’t want to have them greeted with a firepower like you wouldn’t believe. So we were able to get in. It was top secret, it was kept. There were no leaks, no nothing.
Donald Trump: (18:06)
The only people that knew with a few people that I dealt with, and again, Mark Milley and the joint chiefs of staff were incredible. We had some tremendous back up. Robert O’Brien, Secretary Esper, Secretary Pompeo, Pence, I told you, he was great. There’s a very small group of people that knew about this. We had very, very few people. A leak could have caused the death of all of them. Now they’re so good that I think nothing was going to stop them anyway, you want to know the truth. That’s how good they were. We had them also surrounded by massive air power, up in the air yesterday, surrounded at very high levels. We were very low. We had tremendous air power.
Speaker 11: (18:53)
And then you watched all this from the Sit Room? Who were you with in the Sit Room when you watched this?
Donald Trump: (18:58)
Secretary Esper, a few of the joint chiefs, Mark Milley, some generals. We had some very great military people in that room and we had some great intelligence people. Robert O’Brien, it’s really great. Yes.
Speaker 12: (19:18)
Was the pull out of the U.S. troops in Syria last month strategically tied in with this raid?
Donald Trump: (19:25)
No, no. The pullout .. right sure, great question. And you’re doing a great job by the way. Your network is fantastic. They’re really doing a great job. Please let them know. No, the pullout had nothing to do with this. In fact, we found this out at a similar time. It’s a very good question because we found this out at a similar time. No, we’re after these leaders and we have others in sight, very bad ones. But this was the big one. This is the biggest one perhaps that we’ve ever captured. Because this is the one that built ISIS and beyond and was looking to rebuild it again, very, very strongly looking to build it again.
Donald Trump: (20:04)
That’s why he went to this province. This is why he went to this area. You know, a lot of people, I was watching this morning and hearing and they said, “Why was he there?” People were so surprised. Well, that’s where he was trying to rebuild from because that was the place that made most sense if you’re looking to rebuild. Yeah.
Speaker 13: (20:20)
When you sent your tweet last night, at what moment did you decide to send that?
Donald Trump: (20:25)
So I sent that right after I knew they had landed safely.
Speaker 13: (20:29)
When they had returned?
Donald Trump: (20:29)
Right and that was to notify you guys that you have something big this morning so you wouldn’t be out playing golf or tennis or otherwise being indisposed.
Speaker 13: (20:40)
Where were they safe? Where had they landed?
Donald Trump: (20:43)
I’d rather not say, but we landed in a very friendly port in a friendly country.
Speaker 13: (20:50)
Did it give you any pause about your decision to withdraw?
Donald Trump: (20:52)
No, I think it’s great. Look, we don’t want to keep soldiers between Syria and Turkey for the next 200 years. They’ve been fighting for hundreds of years. We’re out, but we are leaving soldiers to secure the oil and we may have to fight for the oil, that’s okay. Maybe somebody else wants the oil, in which case they have a hell of a fight. But there’s massive amounts of oil and we’re securing it for a couple of reasons. Number one, it stops ISIS because ISIS got tremendous wealth from that oil. We have taken it, it’s secured. Number two, and again, somebody else may claim it, but either we’ll negotiate a deal with whoever’s claiming it if we think it’s fair or we will militarily stop them very quickly. We have tremendous power in that part of the world.
Donald Trump: (21:45)
You know, the airport is right nearby, a very big, very monstrous, very powerful airport and very expensive airport that was built years ago. We’re in that Middle East now for eight trillion dollars. So we don’t want to be keeping Syria and Turkey. They’re going to have to make their own decision. The Kurds have worked along incredibly with us, but in all fairness, it was much easier dealing with the Kurds after they went through three days of fighting because that was a brutal three days. And if we would’ve said to the Kurds, “Hey, do you mind moving over seven miles?” Because they were in the middle mostly. So you have seven or eight miles. “Could you mind moving over?” Because I have to say Turkey is taken tremendous deaths from that part of the world. We call it a safe zone, but it was anything but a safe zone.
Donald Trump: (22:36)
Turkey has lost thousands and thousands of people from that safe zone. So they’ve always wanted that safe zone for many years. I’m glad I was able to help them get it, but we don’t want to be there. We want to be home. I want our soldiers home or fighting something that’s meaningful. I’ll tell you who loves us being there, Russia and China. Because while they build their military, we’re depleting our military there. So Russia loves us being there. Now, Russia likes us big there for two reasons because we kill ISIS, we kill terrorists and they’re very close to Russia. We’re 8,000 miles away. Now, maybe they can get here. But we’ve done very well with Homeland Security and the ban, which by the way is approved by the United States Supreme Court, as you know. You know, there was a reporter that said we lost the case and he was right in the early court.
Donald Trump: (23:29)
He didn’t want to say … just refused to say that we won the case in the Supreme Court. But we have a very effective ban and it’s very hard for people to come to our country, but it’s many thousands of miles away whereas Russia’s right there. Turkey’s right there, Syria is there. They’re all right there, excuse me, Iran is right there. Iraq is right there. They all hate ISIS. In theory they should do something and I’ll give you something else. The European nations have been a tremendous disappointment because I personally called, but my people called a lot. Take your ISIS fighters and they didn’t want them. They said, “We don’t want them.” They came from France, they came from Germany, they came from the U.K. They came from a lot of countries and I actually said to them, “If you don’t take them. I’m going to drop them right on your border and you can have fun capturing them again.”
Donald Trump: (24:26)
But the United States taxpayer is not going to pay for the next 50 years. You see what Guantanamo costs? We’re not going to pay tens of billions of dollars because we were good enough to capture people that want to go back to Germany, France, U.K, and other parts of Europe. And they can walk back, they can’t walk to our country. We have lots of water in between our country and them. So yeah, go.
Speaker 14: (24:54)
You mentioned that you’d met some, gotten to know some brilliant people along this process who had helped provide information and advice along the way. Is there anyone in particular, or would you like to give anyone credit for getting to this point today?
Donald Trump: (25:07)
Well, I would but if I mentioned one, I have to mention so many. I spoke to Senator Richard Burr this morning and as you know, he’s very involved with intelligence and the committee and he’s a great gentleman. I spoke with Lindsey Graham just a little while ago. In fact, Lindsey Graham is right over here and he’s been very much involved in this subject. And he’s a very strong hawk, but I think Lindsey agrees with what we’re doing now. And again, there are plenty of other countries that can help them patrol. I don’t want to leave 1,000 or 2000 to 3000 soldiers on the border. But where Lindsey and I totally agree is the oil, the oil is so valuable for many reasons. It fueled ISIS, number one. Number two, it helps the Kurds because it’s basically been taken away from the Kurds. They were able to live with that oil. And number three, it can help us because we should be able to take some also.
Donald Trump: (26:11)
And what I intend to do perhaps is make a deal with an Exxon Mobile or one of our great companies to go in there and do it properly. Right now it’s not big. It’s big oil underground, but it’s not big oil up top and much of the machinery has been shot and dead. It’s been through wars. And spread out the wealth. But no, we’re protecting the oil. We’re securing the oil. Now that doesn’t mean we don’t make a deal at some point, but I don’t want to be … they’re fighting for a thousand years. They’re fighting for centuries. I want to bring our soldiers back home, but I do want to secure the oil. If you read about the history of Donald Trump, I was a civilian. I had absolutely nothing to do with going into Iraq and I was totally against it, but I always used to say, “If they’re going to go in,” nobody cared that much, but it got written about, “If they’re going to go in,” and I’m sure you’ve heard the statement because I made it more then any human being alive. “If they’re going into Iraq, keep the oil.”
Donald Trump: (27:14)
They never did. They never did. I know Lindsay Graham had a bill where basically we would have been paid back for all of the billions of dollars that we’ve spent. Many, many billions of dollars. I mean, I hate to say it, it’s actually trillions of dollars, but many, many billions of dollars. And by one vote they were unable to get that approved in the Senate. They had some pretty big opposition from people that shouldn’t have opposed, like a president and they weren’t able. If you did that, Iraq would be a much different story today because they would be owing us a lot of money. They would be treating us much differently, but I will say Iraq was very good with respect to the raid last night.
Speaker 15: (27:54)
Just to pin down the timing a little bit better here, you got back to the White House around 4:30 yesterday afternoon. Did you immediately go to the Situation Room?
Donald Trump: (28:02)
Well, I knew all about this for three days.
Speaker 15: (28:04)
Donald Trump: (28:04)
Yeah. We thought for three days this is what was going to happen. It was actually, look, nobody was even hurt, a K-9 as they call, I call it a dog, a beautiful dog. A talented dog was injured and brought back. But we had no soldier injured and they did a lot of shooting and they did a lot of blasting. Even not going through the front door. You’d think, you go through the door. If you’re a normal person, you say, “Knock, knock, may I come in?” The fact is that they blasted their way into the house and a very heavy wall and it took them literally seconds. By the time those things went off, they had a beautiful big hole and they ran in and they got everybody by surprise. Unbelievably brilliant as fighters. I can’t imagine there could be anybody better. And these, as you know, are our top operations people.
Speaker 16: (29:03)
And Baghdadi apparently had been in bad health for some time, was there any indication of that or?
Donald Trump: (29:08)
Well, we don’t know that, but he was the last one out and his people had either been killed, which there were many or gave up and came out. Because with the 11 children that came out, we were able to do that. We don’t know if they were his children. They might’ve been, but as I said, three died in the tunnel and the tunnel collapsed with the explosion. But you had other fighters coming out also and they’re being brought back. They’re right now … we have them imprisoned.
Speaker 17: (29:43)
I was going to ask whose children they were, but do you remember what time you went into the Situation Room?
Donald Trump: (29:48)
Well, I started five o’clock, we were pretty much gathered at five o’clock yesterday. We were in contact all day long through hopefully secure phones. I’ll let you know tomorrow, but nothing seemed to leak, so I guess they were secure for a change. But we gathered more or less at 5:00. The attack started moments after that. The liftoff started moments after that. Again, the element of attack that they were most afraid of was getting from our base into that compound. Because there’s tremendous firepower that we were flying over. And I won’t go into it, but you had a very big Russian presence in one area. You had a Turkish presence, you had a Syrian presence and you’re flying low, it’s very dangerous. And there were shots made, but we think these were people that were shooting, that were indiscriminately shooting. The helicopters took some shots, but we think that these were people that were just random people that don’t like to see helicopters, I guess.
Speaker 18: (31:02)
[crosstalk 00:31:02] Sir, was there any kind of DNA test done or where is the body?
Donald Trump: (31:05)
So that’s another part of the genius of these people. They brought his … they have his DNA, more of it than they want even. And they brought it with them with lab technicians who were with them and they assumed that this was Baghdadi. They thought visually it was him, but they assumed it was him. And they did a site, an onsite test. They got samples. And to get to his body they had to remove a lot of debris because the tunnel had collapsed. But these people are very good at that. And they, as I said, they brought body parts back with them, et cetera. There wasn’t much left, the vest blew up, but they’re still substantial pieces that they brought back. So they did an onsite test because we had to know this and it was a very quick call that took place about 15 minutes after he was killed. And it was positive, “This is a confirmation, sir.”
Speaker 19: (32:13)
[crosstalk 00:32:13] There was also a report that his wife had detonated, or one of his wives had detonated a vest.
Donald Trump: (32:19)
So there are two women, there were two women. Both wives, both wearing vests. They had not detonated, but the fact that they were dead and they had vests on made it very difficult for our men. Because they had vests on and it made it very difficult for our men because you’d never know what’s going to happen. They’re lying, they’re dead. They never detonated, but they were dead.
Speaker 20: (32:48)
On the successor, the possible successors, have you been briefed on who would possibly-
Donald Trump: (32:52)
Yeah, we know the successors and we’ve already got them in our sights and we’ll tell you that right now, but we know the successors. Hamza bin Laden was a big thing, but this is the biggest there is. This is the worst ever. Osama bin Laden was very big, but Osama bin Laden became big with the World Trade Center. This is a man who built a whole, as he would like to call it, a country, a caliphate and was trying to do it again. And I had not heard too much about his health. I’ve heard stories about he may not have been in good health, but he died in a ruthless, vicious manner that I can tell you.
Speaker 21: (33:38)
Were any prisoners taken, sir? Were any adults taken-
Donald Trump: (33:40)
Yes, we have people that were taken. Many of the people died on the site, but we had people that were taken yes. And the children, we left them under care of somebody that we understand.
Speaker 21: (33:54)
Do you know how many or do you believe-
Donald Trump: (33:55)
Speaker 21: (33:56)
11 children, how many adults?
Donald Trump: (33:58)
I’d rather not say I’d leave that to the generals, but a small group.
Donald Trump: (34:01)
With the generals, but a small group, more dead than alive.
Speaker 22: (34:06)
Which operation teams were involved? Which special operations teams were involved?
Donald Trump: (34:11)
Many of them, and at the top level and people that were truly incredible at their craft. I’ve never seen anything like it.
Speaker 14: (34:22)
And were there, as far as partnerships goes, were there any other forces involved or was this only American troops and Israeli-
Donald Trump: (34:26)
No, only American forces.
Speaker 14: (34:29)
Did the U.S.-
Donald Trump: (34:29)
Only American forces, but we were given great cooperation.
Speaker 14: (34:33)
Did the U.S. rely on-
Donald Trump: (34:34)
We told the Russians we’re coming in, because we had to go over them, and they were curious, but we said we’re coming. We said one way or the other, hey, look, we’re coming. But they were very cooperative. They really were good.
Speaker 14: (34:50)
Donald Trump: (34:51)
And we did say it would be a mission that they’d like, too, because you know, again, they hate ISIS as much as we do.
Speaker 14: (34:56)
Sir, and then for intel purposes, was there any foreign intel that proved useful along the way in this operation?
Donald Trump: (35:03)
So we had our own intel, we got very little help. We didn’t need very much help. We have some incredible people. When we use our intelligence correctly, what we can do is incredible. When we waste our time with intelligence, that hurts our country because we had poor leadership at the top, that’s not good.
Donald Trump: (35:25)
But I’ve gotten to know many of the intel people and I will say that they are spectacular. Now, they’re not going to want to talk about it. They want to keep it quiet. The last thing they want, because these are great patriots. But the people that I’ve been dealing with are incredible people and it’s really a deserving name, intelligence.
Donald Trump: (35:44)
I’ve dealt with some people that aren’t very intelligent having to do with intel, but this is the top people and it was incredible. It was flawless and it was very complicated, but… So I do appreciate Russia, Turkey, Iraq, and Syria to an extent, because you know, we’re flying into Syria. There’s a lot of Syrian people with lots of guns, so we had good cover for probably the most dangerous part.
Donald Trump: (36:18)
It would not sound to, you know when you fly in, it doesn’t sound like that would be the most dangerous when you’re going into shooting nests and all of the things that happened once they broke into that pretty powerful compound. That was a very strong compound, and as I said had tunnels. But the most dangerous part we had great cooperation with.
Donald Trump: (36:36)
Speaker 23: (36:39)
Did you inform speaker Pelosi ahead of time?
Donald Trump: (36:40)
No I didn’t. I didn’t do it. I didn’t do that. I wanted to make sure this kept secret. I don’t want to have men lost and women, I don’t want to have people lost.
Speaker 23: (36:49)
[crosstalk 00:36:49] anticipate inviting the special forces teams to the White House after this?
Donald Trump: (36:54)
Oh yeah, they’ll be invited. I don’t know if they’ll want to have their faces shown to be honest with you. You know, they want to, they’re credible for the country. They’re not looking for public relations, but they love doing what they’re doing.
Donald Trump: (37:08)
I’ve seen it. First lady was out there recently looking at what they do. She came back, she said, wow, I’ve never seen anything like that. The training, you know, all of the training and the power of the people, the men and women, the strength, the physical strength, the mental strength. These are incredible people. These are very unique individuals.
You mentioned whimpering. Could you hear that on your video hook up? You mention, the whimpering of al-Baghdadi.
Donald Trump: (37:33)
I don’t want to talk about it-
Donald Trump: (37:35)
But he was screaming, crying, and whimpering, and he was scared out of his mind. And think of James Foley, think of [Kayla 00:03:49], think of the things he did to Kayla, what he did to Foley and so many others. And for those people that say, oh, isn’t this a little violent? Think of how many times have you seen men, I think in all cases men for the most part, but in terms of this, where you see the orange suits and you see the ocean and they’re beheaded?
Donald Trump: (38:15)
Or how many of you got to see, because it was out there, the Jordanian pilot whose plane went down, they captured him, they put him in a cage, and they set him on fire?
Donald Trump: (38:27)
And the King of Jordan actually attacked very powerfully when that happened. They’ve never seen a thing like that, but he set him on fire. This was al-Baghdadi and you should never ever hopefully see a thing like that again.
Donald Trump: (38:44)
Now, there’ll be new people emerge, but this was the worst, of this particular world, this was the worst, probably in certain ways, the smartest. He was also a coward and he didn’t want to die. But think of it, everybody was out and we were able to search him down and find him in the tunnel. We knew the tunnel existed and that’s where he was.
And you’ve taken a lot of heat for the Syria pullout. Do you think this will change the stand, your standing?
Donald Trump: (39:14)
Well, I don’t have a Syria pullout. I just don’t want to guard Turkey and Syria for the rest of our lives. I mean, I don’t want to do it. It’s very expensive. It’s very dangerous. They’ve been fighting for centuries. I don’t want to have my people, two thousand men and women, or a thousand, or 28… We had 28 guarding, I said, I don’t want them there anyway. I don’t want them.
Donald Trump: (39:34)
Now, I will secure the oil, that happens to be in a certain part, but that’s tremendous money involved. I would love to, you know, the oil and… I mean, I’ll tell you a story in Iraq, so they spent… President Bush went in. I strongly disagreed with it even though it wasn’t my expertise at the time, but I had a, I have a very good instinct about things.
Donald Trump: (40:01)
They went in and I said, that’s a tremendous mistake and there were no weapons of mass destruction. It turned out I was right. I was right for other reasons, but it turned out on top of everything else, they had no weapons of mass destruction. Because that would be a reason to go in, but they had none.
Donald Trump: (40:21)
But I heard recently that Iraq over the last number of years actually discriminates against America in oil leases. In other words, some oil companies from other countries, after all we’ve done, have an advantage in Iraq for the oil.
Donald Trump: (40:42)
I said, keep the oil, give them what they need, keep the oil. Why should we, we go in, we lose thousands of lives, spend trillions of dollars, and our companies don’t even have an advantage in getting the oil leases. So I just tell you that story. That’s what I heard.
Speaker 24: (41:04)
Did Gina Haspel play a role in this? Can you talk a little bit about that? And I saw your NSE counter terrorism director out in the hallway, was there a roll in NSE director-
Donald Trump: (41:10)
Yes. Everybody. Gina was great. Everybody played a role.
Donald Trump: (41:16)
[Joe 00:41:16] was great. Gina was great. They were all great.
Just to follow up, did your Syria pullout, did that generate the intelligence that led to this operation?
Donald Trump: (41:26)
No. We were looking at this. Look, as I said, [Steve 00:07:31], I’ve been looking at this, I’m here almost three years. I’ve been looking at this for three years. They’d come in, sir, we have somebody under… I said, I don’t want somebody. I want al-Baghdadi. That’s the one I want.
Donald Trump: (41:44)
They’d say, well we have somebody else. I said, that’s great, fine, take him out. But I wanted al-Baghdadi. That’s who I want. I don’t want other people.
Donald Trump: (41:54)
And then I also wanted Hamza bin Laden. Because he’s a young man around 30, looks just like his father, tall, very handsome, and he was talking bad things just like his father.
Donald Trump: (42:10)
Do you know if you read my book, there was a book just before the World Trade Center came down, and I don’t get any credit for this, but that’s okay, I never do. But here we are. I wrote a book, a really very successful book, and in that book about a year before the World Trade Center was blown up, I said, there is somebody named Osama bin Laden. You better kill him or take him out, something to that effect, he’s big trouble.
Donald Trump: (42:39)
Now, I wasn’t in government, I was building buildings and doing what I did, but I always found it fascinating. But I saw this man, tall, handsome, very charismatic, making horrible statements about wanting to destroy our country, and I’m writing a book. I think I wrote 12 books, all did very well, and I’m writing a book. World Trade Center had not come down. I think it was about, if you check, it was about a year before the World Trade Center came down, and I’m saying to people, take out Osama bin Laden, that nobody ever heard of.
Donald Trump: (43:17)
Nobody ever heard of. I mean, al-Baghdadi everybody hears because he’s built this monster for a long time, but nobody ever heard of Osama bin Laden until really the World Trade Center. But about a year, you’ll have to check it, a year, year and a half before the World Trade Center came down, the book came out. I was talking about Osama bin Laden. I said, you have to kill him. You have to take him out.
Donald Trump: (43:38)
Nobody listened to me. And to this day I get people coming up to me, they said, you know what one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen about you is that you predicted that Osama bin Laden had to be killed before he knocked down the World Trade Center. It’s true.
Donald Trump: (43:57)
Now most of the press doesn’t want to write that, but you know. But it is true, if you go back, look at my book, I think it was The America We Deserve, I made a prediction and I… Let’s put it this way, if they would’ve listened to me, a lot of things would’ve been different.
Speaker 14: (44:12)
Sir, can you talk about some of the difficult decisions you had along the way here in this operation with anything that weighed on you or that you had to-
Donald Trump: (44:20)
Well, just death. I mean, you know I’m sending a large number of brilliant fighters. These are the greatest fighters in the world.
Speaker 14: (44:28)
Donald Trump: (44:29)
I’d rather let the generals tell you, but a large number. We had eight helicopters and we had many other ships and planes. It was a large group. And again, this is a large group heading over very, very strong firepower areas where that was decision one, will they make it? And they made it. But they took fire, but they made it.
Donald Trump: (44:58)
They didn’t take, we don’t believe, again, it was nation fire. We believe it was individual group fire or gang fires, they call it. So they made it. So that was a big relief.
Donald Trump: (45:10)
Then they went in, they blasted their way in, you’ve heard. They blasted their way in so quickly. It was incredible, because this building was quite powerful, strong. They blasted their way in and then all hell broke loose. It’s incredible that nobody was killed or hurt. We had nobody even hurt, and that’s why the dog was so great.
Donald Trump: (45:32)
We actually had a robot to go in the tunnel, but we didn’t get it because we were tracking him very closely. But we had a robot just in case because we were afraid he had a suicide vest on, and if you get close to him and he blows it up, you’re going to die. You’re going to die. He had a very powerful suicide vest.
Speaker 14: (45:50)
Did you have to make any decisions in the moment while troops were on the ground?
Donald Trump: (45:53)
No, they had it, just incredible, we were getting full reports on literally a minute by minute basis. Sir, we just broke in, sir, the wall is down, sir, you know, we’ve captured, sir, two people are coming out right now, hands up fighters.
Donald Trump: (46:11)
Then the 11 children out, numerous people were dead within the building that they killed. Then it turned out they gave us a report, sir, there’s only one person in the building. We are sure he’s in the tunnel trying to escape, but it’s a dead end tunnel.
Donald Trump: (46:32)
And it was brutal, but it was over. And as I said, when he blew himself up, the tunnel collapsed on top of him on top of everything… And his children, I mean, so he led his three children to death. So, you know.
Speaker 14: (46:47)
And in the tunnel, that’s when the robot followed him into, that’s why no-
Donald Trump: (46:51)
The robot was set to, but we didn’t hook it up because we were too, they were moving too fast. We were moving fast. We weren’t 100% sure about the tunnel being dead ended.
Donald Trump: (47:03)
It’s possible that there could have been an escape hatch somewhere along that we didn’t know about. So we moved very, very quickly. I mean-
Speaker 14: (47:11)
Were you chasing him?
Donald Trump: (47:12)
These people, they were moving. They were chasing. Yeah, they were chasing. But again, because the suicide vest, you can’t get too close. Again, one of the reasons with the wives is if they have a suicide vest, you know, you have to be very, very careful. These vests are brutal, brutal. And they go for a long distance. Yes, please.
Speaker 23: (47:35)
Have you spoken or will you speak to the families, like the Foley family?
Donald Trump: (47:35)
I’m calling the families now. It will be a pleasure to do that. The Foley family who I know, we will be calling Kayla’s family. What he did to her was incredible. It’s a well known story, and I’m not going to say it, but you know that he kept her in captivity for a long period of time. He kept her in his captivity, his personal captivity.
Donald Trump: (47:58)
She was a beautiful woman, beautiful young woman, helped people. She was there to help people and he saw her and he thought she was beautiful and he brought her into captivity for a long period of time and then he killed her.
Donald Trump: (48:17)
He was an animal, and he was a gutless animal. Thank you all very much. I appreciate it’s-
Sir, thank you.
Donald Trump: (48:23)
A very great day for our country.