Cadiz native led operation that brought down ISIS leader

Lieutenant General Scott Howell

The U.S. military operation credited with the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the United Nations designated terrorist group ISIS, was in part led by Cadiz native Lieutenant General Scott Howell.

The operation took place Saturday night in Syria. Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest, killing himself and three of his children, as U.S. special operators cornered in on him, according to President Donald Trump.

Trump called al-Baghdadi the world's No. 1 terrorist leader.

"He was a sick and depraved man, and now he's gone," Trump said. "He died like a dog, he died like a coward."

The mission was carried out by Joint Special Operations Command's Delta Team, the same unit credited with coordinating the raid that resulted in the 2011 death of Osama Bin Laden. Howell was appointed the 15th commander of the unit in July 2018.

Howell, 54, was commissioned through the Air Force Academy in 1987, earning his wings at Fort Rucker in Alabama, and has since logged over 2,600 flight hours. A career helicopter pilot, he has been on assignment for varied special and rescue operations in Iraq, Bosnia, Haiti, Kosovo, Mozambique, Djibouti and Afghanistan, according to his Air Force biography.

State elected officials have expressed pride in Howell's role in the military operation.

"We salute our military members and special forces, led by KY-1 Cadiz native Lieutenant General Scott Howell, for their distinguished service in bringing down ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi," Congressman James Comer wrote in a Facebook post Sunday.

A statement released by Senator Mitch McConnell Monday indicated that he was "especially proud" of Howell's leadership in the "daring mission," going on to say, "Our nation is lucky to have this son of the Bluegrass serving where he is."