United States President Donald Trump on Saturday accused The New York Times of foiling his administration’s attempt to eliminate Islamic State head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The controversial president made the allegations on Twitter.

The president, however, did not specify which report had caused the alleged damage to the mission. He accused the Times of having a “sick agenda over national security.”

“We have asked the White House to clarify the tweet,” The New York Times told the Politico news site. “If the President is referring to this 2015 story, the Pentagon raised no objections with the Times before publishing the story in 2015 and no senior American official ever complained publicly about it until now.”

Trump also sparked rumours with another tweet about his presidential powers. “While all agree the US President has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is leaks against us. FAKE NEWS,” Trump tweeted. The Washington Post had reported that the president had asked his advisors for information about his powers to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the Russia-links investigation.

Islamic State chief

On July 22, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters that he thinks al-Baghdadi is still alive. Despite various reports saying he was dead, Mattis had told Pentagon reporters, “I think Baghdadi’s alive… and I will believe otherwise when we know we’ve killed him,” according to AFP.

On July 11, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said al-Baghdadi had been killed. The militant group also confirmed the news then and had said it would soon announce a successor. Earlier in June, Russia’s military had said that it was investigating if Baghdadi had been killed in one of its airstrikes outside Raqqa, Syria’s de facto capital, on May 28.

Mattis added that he thinks that Baghdadi still had a role in the Islamic State, while other Pentagon officials said he was no longer in charge of the organisation’s day-to-day activities, The New York Times reported.