Military Gains Bipartisan Support for Raid That Killed ISIS Leader as Democrats Criticize Trump

October 29, 2019 Updated: October 29, 2019

The military personnel who risked their lives to kill ISIS Leader Abū Bakr al-Baghdadi have gotten bipartisan support for their heroism. Despite that, there has been criticism from top Democrats on President Trump’s Syria policy and the handling of communications with them before the raid.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said, “The success of the al-Baghdadi raid is a testament to the valor and skill of our military personnel and intelligence professionals, whose unique service to our nation is of the utmost importance. We are grateful for their bravery and patriotism.”

“We owe immense gratitude to the intelligence community and our highly trained special operations forces for their courage and professionalism carrying out an extremely dangerous mission. I congratulate our forces for successfully bringing down Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS and the world’s most dangerous terrorist, and I thank them for their ongoing efforts to keep the American people safe,” said Congressman Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee.

House Majority Leader Stony H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said, “The death of al-Baghdadi is a significant event in the fight against ISIS and its brand of violent extremism. I congratulate the American and allied personnel who played a part in this mission’s success. I hope this raid brings a measure of comfort to the families of ISIS’s victims.”

Agreeing with Hoyer, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees said in a statement.  “The death of al-Baghdadi is a triumph for our nation’s anti-terrorism efforts and is a testament to the persistence and expertise of our military and intelligence services.”

A strong advocate for veterans, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (D-N.H) said, “I am grateful for the heroism and incredible work of our nation’s intelligence community and our military, with the help of allies that led to the killing of ISIS leader al-Baghdadi. ISIS has carried out atrocities across the globe, and their brutality was felt close to home with the horrific murder of James Foley.”

Republican Congress members agreed with their Democratic colleagues in acknowledging the bravery of those that carried out the raid in Iraq.

Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) said, “We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the brave special forces who conducted the raid and to President Trump for his strong leadership in dismantling the ISIS caliphate. When our intelligence community and military have the tools to succeed, they can take on any threat to our nation. Every American should celebrate this major victory in the war on terror.”

Chairman of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said, “The U.S. raid against Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi marks an important milestone in the campaign against remaining ISIS leadership. The world is safer without al-Baghdadi in it. ISIS fighters should take note that their leader died in a hole, miles away from them, in what he thought was a safe haven. The message is clear.”

Congressman Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), who served in the Navy SEALs for ten years, including five tours of duty, supported the raid.

Crenshaw said, “Today is a good day in America. ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead, and our enemy is significantly weaker. I’m proud of our U.S. Special Operators, who carried out this high-risk mission and applaud the administration for its decisive action. This is what is possible with a forward-deployed presence and strong, intelligence-sharing relationships. Now we must keep pressure on the mid-level ISIS leadership that will seek to replace him. Congratulations to JSOC, the intelligence community, and the President.”

While Democrats and Republicans agreed on the heroism of the military, top Democrats added in their criticism for President Trump’s Syria policy and the lack of information that the commander and chief provided to them before the raid.

Smith said, “While the death of al-Baghdadi is consequential, we must not mistake the demise of one ISIS leader for complete and finite victory. As has been reported, many ISIS fighters remain in tenuous circumstances in the prisons of Northeastern Syria. ISIS fighters in those prisons and around the world will not rest because of his death. The United States must remain vigilant in our fight against terrorism. As I have said, success in the region is only possible by, with, and through partners and allies.”

“The threat posed by ISIS requires strategic and thoughtful leadership, and it is imperative that the Administration clearly articulate a strategy to defeat ISIS with our partners and allies.”

Ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) affirmed Smith’s position, “al-Baghdadi’s death doesn’t mean the fight against ISIS is over, nor should it signal a retreat from Syria. ISIS has a worldwide network that will continue to seek to attack us, our allies, and our interests. We should continue to pressure ISIS by reestablishing our alliance with Kurdish forces in Syria.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi also congratulated U.S. military forces for killing al-Baghdadi, but she also had some harsh words for the president’s foreign policy and the fact that Congress was not informed before the raid.

“This month, the House passed a joint resolution on an overwhelmingly bipartisan 354-60 basis which rejects President Trump’s green-lighting of Turkish aggression into Syria against our Kurdish partners and calls on him to present a clear strategy to defeat ISIS.  The House must be briefed on this raid, which the Russians but not top Congressional Leadership were notified of in advance, and on the Administration’s overall strategy in the region.  Our military and allies deserve strong, smart, and strategic leadership from Washington.”

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer acknowledged the significance of the ISIS leaders death but criticized the Syria decision. “… It is deeply concerning that President Trump handed ISIS a huge victory just days ago when he abandoned our allies, who led the fight against ISIS on the ground. As a result, potentially hundreds of ISIS prisoners, including those who might become the next al-Baghdadi, were able to escape and may now be regrouping to plan the organization’s next attacks.”

“I look forward to learning more about what material U.S. forces captured during the raid, and I expect Congress to be briefed in full. This fight against ISIS is not over. Our country must have a strategic and effective policy to counter ISIS that does not squander today’s success,” Hoyer said, and Congressman Smith agreed.

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