- The Washington Times - Monday, October 28, 2019

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi tried to stay healthy as he moved around Syria to evade death at the hands of U.S. military and allies, a onetime traveling companion says.

Muhammad Ali Sajet, now detained by Iraqi intelligence services, gave an interview to Saudi Arabia’s Arabia TV. He sat down shortly after al-Baghdadi’s death by suicide bomb as Army Delta Force soldiers and war dogs pursued him into a dead-end tunnel at a compound in northwestern Syria.

“There were no doctors but he received treatment,” Sajet said. “He was treated for his wounds, for his diabetes, his blood pressure. … He had a device to check his sugar level.”

“Yes, he was wounded and received treatment, but his condition was good,” he added.

A transcript was provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

Sajet expressed pessimism that the Islamic State, the murderous terrorist army founded by al-Baghdadi in 2011, can survive.

“I think that even if al-Baghdadi were not killed, ISIS is finished,” he said. “It’s over. ISIS does not exist anymore. After Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed, it is over. The morale is shattered. People are broken. Even if someone takes over, the organization is over.”

The U.S. and Kurdish allies smashed al-Baghdadi’s so-called caliphate in eastern Syria while American forces, teamed with Iraqis, also evicted the group from that country.

“By Allah, he was shocked by that,” Sajet said.

What remains today is a global network of ISIS followers willing to execute terror attacks across the globe, guided by constant Internet propaganda on various social media channels.

Sajet said his leader was well armed and always wore the suicide vest.

“They had hand grenades, American machine guns, as well as bazookas. He was completely ready,” he said.

Sajet said al-Baghdadi never expected to be found.

“By Allah, we did not expect this to happen, because he took strong security measures. I think that he was well hidden. Yes, we did not expect this to happen and [al-Baghdadi] did not expect that he would be killed, because of all the security measures,” Sajet said.

• Rowan Scarborough can be reached at rscarborough@washingtontimes.com.

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