Washington Post changes al-Baghdadi headline that called terror leader an 'austere religious scholar'

Dylan Stableford
·Senior Writer
·3 min read

The Washington Post on Sunday changed the headline of its obituary for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the ISIS terror leader who was killed in a U.S. raid in Syria over the weekend, after receiving widespread backlash for referring to him as an “austere religious scholar.”

The original headline, posted online after President Trump announced al-Baghdadi’s killing, read: “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Islamic State’s ‘terrorist-in-chief,’ dies at 48.” It was later changed to “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State, dies at 48.”

It now reads: “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, extremist leader of Islamic State, dies at 48.”

(Yahoo News photo illustration; photos: AP, Getty Images/Twitter)
Yahoo News photo illustration; photos: AP, Getty Images/Twitter

“Post correspondents have spent years in Iraq and Syria documenting ISIS savagery, often at great personal risk,” Kristine Coratti Kelly, a spokeswoman for the Post, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, a headline written in haste to portray the origins of al-Baghdadi and ISIS didn’t communicate that brutality. The headline was promptly changed.”

But not before critics, including the president’s children, pounced.

President Trump announced the killing of al-Baghdadi in a televised address on Sunday morning.

“Last night the United States brought the world’s No. 1 terrorist leader to justice,” Trump said. “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead.”

According to Trump, al-Baghdadi and a “large number” of his fighters were killed on Saturday night in Idlib province, Syria, after a raid by U.S. Special Operations forces.

Trump offered a dramatic narration of the raid, which he said he was able to watch and took “approximately two hours.” He gave a graphic account of the terrorist being chased down a tunnel by American troops “whimpering and crying and screaming all the way.”

“He reached the end of the tunnel as our dogs chased him down,” Trump said of al-Baghdadi. “He ignited the vest, killing himself and three of his children.”

The president mocked al-Baghdadi’s ISIS fighters as “losers” and said al-Baghdadi died in a state of “utter fear, total panic and dread.” He didn’t indicate how he knew what al-Baghdadi was thinking.

“He died like a dog,” Trump said. “He died like a coward. The world is now a much safer place. God bless America.”

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