A senior national security official in the Obama administration told ABC News that President Obama often hesitated to authorize air strikes when there was a chance of significant “collateral damage” – or civilians being killed.
The official said Trump may operate under a different standard.
“We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth,” Trump said minutes after taking the oath of office on Friday.
As ABC News has reported, al-Baghdadi has been assessed by senior military intelligence analysts for the past few months of being hunkered down in Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, occupied by ISIS since June 2014 and the scene of his only appearance ever on video, delivering a sermon that summer from a mosque’s pulpit against the West and proclaiming himself caliph, the leader of all Muslims.
Even with Iraqi government special forces units retaking eastern Mosul since the fall in a slow campaign backed by the United States, al-Baghdadi is believed not to have fled to the de facto ISIS capital of Raqqa in Syria, counterterrorism officials told ABC News this week.