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Quick Confirmation

As part of the announcement earlier this week that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed during a raid by US forces, President Donald Trump said a test was used to confirm that the Islamic State leader had died when a suicide vest activated.

"His body was mutilated by the blast, the tunnel had caved in on it in addition, but test results gave certain, immediate, and totally positive identification it was him," President Trump said of al-Baghdadi.

This, the Scientist says, was interpreted by some to mean that rapid DNA testing was used to identify al-Baghdadi. It adds that President Trump said that a previously acquired sample of al-Baghdadi's DNA as well as lab technicians were brought along on the raid so that confirmation testing could be done in 15 minutes. As the Scientist notes, the fastest testing approaches take about 90 minutes, suggesting that the military might have developed an even faster testing system.

However, the Scientist writes that spokespeople for the Department of Defense Special Operations didn't provide further detail on the on-site testing, though that General Kenneth McKenzie Jr. said at a press conference that "DNA samples were flown with the assault force back to the staging base ... for final DNA analysis."

Makers of rapid DNA testing machines tell the Scientist that they don't view 90 minutes as a limit to how fast testing can go, but that they didn't want to speculate on the prospect of a 15-minute test.