(Associated Press) DEB RIECHMANN and AAMER MADHANI October 28 2019 WASHINGTON The helicopters flew low and fast into the night ferrying U.S. special forces to a compound where Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was hiding in Syria. Half a world away President Donald Trump watched the raid in real time via a video link as troops blasted into the hideout and sent the most-wanted militant running the last steps of his life. The daring raid was the culmination of years of steady intelligence-gathering work and 48 hours of hurry-up planning once Washington got word that al-Baghdadi would be at a compound in northwestern Syria. The night unfolded with methodical precision and unexpected turns. This reconstruction is based on the first-blush accounts of Trump and other administration officials eager to share the details of how the U.S. snared its top target as well observations from startled villagers who had no idea al-Baghdadi was in their midst. Events developed quickly once the White House learned on Thursday there was a high probability" that al-Baghdadi would be at an Idlib province compound. By Friday Trump had military options on his desk. By Saturday morning the administration at last had actionable intelligence" it could exploit. There was no hint of that interior drama as Trump headed to Camp David on Friday night to celebrate the 10th wedding anniversary of daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner. Then he was off to Virginia on a brisk fall Saturday for a round at one of his golf courses. He teed off with Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred in town for the World Series and Sens. Lindsey Graham and David Perdue. Trump got back to the White House at 4:18 p.m. By 5 p.m. he was in a suit in the Situation Room in the basement of the West Wing to monitor the raid. One official said they monitored the operation with real-time imagery but Trumps vivid description of al-Baghdadis final moments was based on conversations with military commanders. They named it after Kayla Mueller an American humanitarian worker abused and killed by al-Baghdadi.
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