A Kentucky native led the U.S. command that led to the death of Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Saturday night.
Lt. Gen. Scott Howell, who was born in Cadiz in Trigg County, led the raid on al-Baghdadi’s command. Howell is the 15th commander of Joint Special Operations Command and was in charge of carrying out the Syrian attack.
U.S. Rep. James Comer, who represents the First District, congratulated Howell in a tweet on Sunday.
Howell was appointed last year by President Donald Trump to be commander of the Joint Special Operations Command, which is based out of U.S. Army base Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Howell is the first Air Force officer to lead the command.
Howell, a helicopter pilot, has participated in operations in Iraq, Kuwait, Bosnia, Haiti, Kosovo, Mozambique, Djibouti and Afghanistan, He previously served as the U.S. Special Operations Command vice commander.
At least 50 members of U.S. special-operations forces targeted Baghdadi in a raid near Idlib, officials said, an operation resulting from intelligence gathered in recent weeks by the Central Intelligence Agency, the military and U.S. allies. No U.S. personnel were reported injured, though a military dog that was hurt while pursuing Baghdadi into the tunnel was evacuated with U.S. troops.
Trump said that as U.S. troops and their dogs closed in, the militant went "whimpering and crying and screaming all the way" to his death. He detonated a suicide vest.
"He reached the end of the tunnel, as our dogs chased him down," Trump said. "He ignited his vest, killing himself and the three children."
Trump called al-Baghdadi the world’s No. 1 terrorist leader.
“He died like a dog,” Trump said. “He died like a coward. The world is now a much safer place. He was a sick and depraved man, and now he’s gone.”
Al-Baghdadi is the highest-ranking terrorist to be killed or captured since the death of bin Laden in 2011.
The same Delta Team command is credited with coordinating the raid that resulted in Osama bin Laden’s death, according to Newsweek.