Several dozen members of the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta – popularly known as “Delta Force” — pulled off a bold and daring raid in Syria Friday night that ended in the killing of Islamic State (ISIS) member Abu Sayyaf. The Pentagon had intended to capture Sayyaf, but he resisted capture resulting in an intense firefight at Al Omar.
“Last night, at the direction of the Commander in Chief, I ordered US special operations forces to conduct an operation in al-Amr in eastern Syria to capture an ISIL senior leader known as Abu Sayyaf and his wife Umm Sayyaf,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in a statement.
“Abu Sayyaf was killed during the course of the operation when he engaged US forces,” Carter said.
“US forces captured Umm Sayyaf, who we suspect is a member of ISIS, played an important role in ISIS’s terrorist activities, and may have been complicit in what appears to have been the enslavement of a young Yezidi woman rescued last night,” Carter said, adding that the mission struck a “significant blow” to the Islamic State. He explained that Sayyaf directed ISIS’s military activities and funding, and oversaw the jihadi group’s “illicit oil, gas and financial operation.”
It didn’t take long for jihadi social media to claim, "If your goal is killing Abu Sayyaf, then our goal is killing Obama and the worshipers of the cross. We have attacks coming against you."
ISIS has repeatedly called for its supporters to carry out attacks within the US, as Homeland Security Today has reported. ISIS media company Al Furqan Thursday released a new audio speech by its leader, Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, in which he issued a call to arms by all Muslims, urging them to emigrate to ISIS territories and fight ISIS’s enemies, whom he called the enemies of all Muslims.
The operation was bold and risky because the Delta Force team were transported deep into ISIS-held territory via presumably stealth equipped Blackhawk helicopters flown by the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) as well as one or more US Air Force Special Operations CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft used for insertion and extraction of special operations forces.
Delta Force has been deployed numerous times in classified operations in Syria and other Middle Eastern nations in counterterrorism missions.
No US forces were killed or injured during the operation, which represented“another significant blow to ISIL,” the defense secretary said. However, there are reports that the engagement between Delta Force members and ISIS jihadists involved hand-to-hand combat.
Sayyaf was involved in the Islamist jihadi organization’s military operations and helped direct ISIS’s illicit oil, gas and financial operations. During the raid, Delta Force also acquired ISIS computers, communications equipment and other materials that should prove invaluable to US counterterrorism analysts.
President Obama authorized the raid "upon the unanimous recommendation of his national security team,” said National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan, who added, "Abu Sayyaf was a senior ISIS leader who, among other things, had a senior role in overseeing ISIS’s illicit oil and gas operations — a key source of revenue that enables the terrorist organization to carry out their brutal tactics and oppress thousands of innocent civilians. He was also involved with the group’s military operations."
Counterterrorism officials told Homeland Security Today the mission would not "have been green-lighted unless everyone agreed the intelligence was solid," as one said.
Carter said the operation should be “a reminder that the United States will never waver in denying safe haven to terrorists who threaten our citizens, and those of our friends and allies.”
He thanked “the extraordinary men and women in uniform who executed this complex and challenging mission, along with all those who supported it. Their professionalism, dedication, and valor are a deep source of pride and inspiration to us all.”