- The Washington Times - Monday, October 28, 2019

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden on Monday accused President Trump of screwing up America’s anti-terror strategy and nearly botching the military strike that killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Mr. Biden, a top candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, said that Mr. Trump’s “erratic behavior” jeopardized U.S. special forces conducting the al-Baghdadi raid in Syria over the weekend.

“I’m glad President Trump ordered the mission. But as more details of the raid emerge, it’s clear that this victory was not due to Donald Trump’s leadership. It happened despite his ineptitude as Commander-in-Chief,” Mr. Biden said in a statement.

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He blamed Mr. Trump’s decision to pull out about 150 U.S. troops from the Turkey-Syria border earlier this month with complicating the mission, accelerating and compressing the timeline for the raid.

Mr. Trump announced Sunday that the raid succeeded in killing al-Baghdadi, a brutal and ruthless leader of the Islamic State terrorist army whom the president had made the top target in America’s war on terror.

“He died after running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering and crying and screaming all the way,” Mr. Trump said of al-Baghdadi’s final moments before detonating his suicide vest to avoid capture. “He died like a dog. He died like a coward. The world is now a much safer place.”

Mr. Biden’s immediate response to the announcement was to credit the U.S. military and the intelligence community for the win, avoiding mentioning Mr. Trump’s role in ordering the mission.

He said Mr. Trump’s pullout from the Turkey-Syria border had abandoned Kurdish fighters there, who have come under attack from Turkey, and wrecked that important alliance for confronting the Islamic State, or ISIS.

The former vice president said the pullout, which Mr. Trump described as an effort to bring U.S. troops home, made it harder to fight ISIS in the future.

Mr. Biden said Mr. Trump lacked a strategy for fighting terrorism and keeping America safe.

“There is a difference between deploying hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops to the Middle East indefinitely, and keeping small numbers of special operations and intelligence assets in place to maintain local partnerships and keep pressure on terrorists,” he said. “That’s the smart, strong, and sustainable strategy we pioneered during the Obama-Biden Administration. That’s the effective policy we put in place, which laid the groundwork to end ISIS’s territorial caliphate. That’s the way we built the very relationships that ultimately delivered this victory.”

He added, “Now, Trump wants to tear it all down and walk away.”

The Islamic State grew into a major terrorist organization and seized territory the size of Ohio following the Obama administration’s military pullout from Iraq in 2011.

The Trump administration succeeded in retaking ISIS territory in Iraq and Syria, which the group called a caliphate.

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