U.S. President Donald Trump has accused the New York Times of foiling an attempt to kill Islamic State (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, perhaps his most serious accusation yet against the news media.
The charge came on early Saturday morning when Trump sent out a series of tweets, but it was not immediately known what prompted the accusation, for which he provided no further information or evidence.
“The Failing New York Times foiled U.S. attempt to kill the single most wanted terrorist, Al-Baghdadi,” the president said in a message on Twitter at 6:45 a.m. ET, adding: “Their sick agenda over National Security.”
The tweet came less than 30 minutes after Fox News aired a story about General Tony Thomas, the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, who claimed that a possible lead to al-Baghdadi “went dead” after an article in a national newspaper.
Thomas was apparently referring to a New York Times article in 2015 which reported that U.S. intelligence agencies had extracted valuable information about ISIS during a raid that killed the group’s oil minister, Abu Sayyaf.
The article said the information included clues on how al-Baghadi operates and travels, although it did not suggest that the United States knew his whereabouts.
A spokesperson for the New York Times emphasized that the Pentagon raised no objections to its story before it was published in 2015. “No senior American official ever complained publicly about it until now,” the spokesperson said in an email.
“We have asked the White House to clarify the tweet,” the spokesperson added.
Trump has frequently attacked the mainstream media during his first six months in office, calling them “fake news” in response to unfavorable stories and at one point condemning news organizations such as the New York Times and CNN as the “enemy of the American People!”
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