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The Death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the founder and leader of ISIS, also known as the Islamic State, occurred during a raid by United States Special Operations forces in Northern Syria on October 26th, 2019. U.S. President Donald Trump announced the death in a live broadcast, claiming that Baghdadi had killed himself and three of his children.
On October 26th, 2019, U.S. Special forces led a campaign in Northern Syria to the compound of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Information as to his whereabouts came from a disaffected ISIS member, according to The Washington Post.
As troops approached the compound, they called on Baghdadi to surrender. Several adults and 11 children exited the building, but not the ISIS leader.
According to President Trump, Baghdadi retreated into a tunnel under the building, where he detonated an explosive vest, killing himself and three of his children. Special Forces were still able to identify him. They later conducted a DNA test to confirm
On October 27th, 2019, President Trump announced Baghdadi's death in a press conference (video below). He said:
He died after running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering and crying and screaming. The compound had been cleared by this time, with people either surrendering or being shot and killed. Eleven young children were moved out of the house un-injured. The only ones remaining were Baghdadi in the tunnel, who had dragged three children with him 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, but test results gave certain and positive identification.
Baghdadi's death was the topic of many conversations online. On October 27th, 2019, Redditor  swingadmin posted "Pelosi says Trump Notified Russians of Baghdadi’s apparent death before telling Congressional Leaders" in the /r/politics subreddit. The post received more than 31,000 points *87% upvoted) in 24 hours. News and commentary on the death also received thousands of points in the subreddit /r/The_Donald, /r/conservative, /r/worldnews, /r/esist and more.
On the morning of October 27th, the Washington Post published a story about Baghdadi's death with the headline "austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State." According to journalist Yashar Ali, this was an updated headline that used to read "Islamic State’s terrorist-in-Chief." They tweeted,  "They had it right the first time. The Washington Post changed the headline on its Al-Baghdadi obituary from 'Islamic State’s terrorist-in-Chief' to 'austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State.'" Within 24 hours, the tweet received more than 15,000 likes and 6,000 retweets (shown below).
That morning, Twitter user @NumbersMuncher tweeted a mock headline in the style of the Washington Post's that reads, "Jeffrey Dahmer, connoisseur of exotic and locally sourced meats, dies at 34." The tweet received more than 7,000 likes and 5,000 retweets in 24 hours (shown below, center).
Throughout the morning, others shared similar versions of the joke with the caption #WaPoDeathNotices (shown below, right).
Situation Room Photograph
On October 27th, 2019, White House Director of Social Media Dan Scavino tweeted a photograph of President Trump in the situation room overseeing the raid on Baghdadi. Also shown in the photograph is Vice President Mike Pence; National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien; Secretary of Defense Mark Esper; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army General Mark A. Milley; and Brig. Gen. Marcus Evans, Deputy Director for Special Operations on the Joint Staff. The tweet received more than 24,000 likes and 6,000 retweets in 24 hours (shown below).
Shortly after, the photograph was scrutinized by Pete Souza, the White House photographer of Presidents Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. He tweeted, "The raid, as reported, took place at 3:30PM Washington time. The photo, as shown in the camera IPTC data, was taken at '17:05:24.'" The tweet received more than 56,000 likes and 20,000 retweets in 24 hours (shown below, left).
Others continued to accuse the photograph of being staged. The director of Marvel's Doctor Strange tweeted, "Rarely do you see a staged photo with such extreme eyeline problems." The tweet received more than 1,000 likes and 140 retweets in 24 hours (shown below, center).
Some mocked the photograph for, allegedly, attempting to recreate President Obama's Situation Room photograph from the assassination of Osama Bin Laden. Comedy writer Jess Dweck tweeted the two photographs side-by-side and wrote, "When you dress up as a meme for Halloween but don’t quite nail it." The tweet received more than 16,000 likes and 1,000 retweets in 24 hours (shown below, right).
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