NORTHERN SYRIA — ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was betrayed by a member of his inner circle who helped lead American troops to his compound in Northern Syria.
The commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, Gen. Mazloum Abdi, gave NBC News a detailed account of how he spent months running a spy inside ISIS who followed al-Baghdadi as he moved from one safehouse to another, until he was finally trapped in a tunnel beneath one of them.
Abdi did not identify the source, but Kurdish intelligence officials described him as an Arab who had many relatives in ISIS.
Abdi said the informant’s main motivation was revenge.
“I think he was under a lot of pressure from his family,” the general said. “His relatives were subjected to harsh treatment by ISIS and he no longer believed in the future of ISIS. He wanted to take revenge on ISIS and al-Baghdadi himself.”
The spy was in a unique and extremely rare position to exact his revenge.
“He was, you could say, a security official,” the general said. “A personal security official for al-Baghdadi himself, in charge of al-Baghdadi’s movements. “