The audio is the first purported recording of the IS leader to be released since September last year. This comes at a time when IS has lost most of its territory in Iraq and Syria.
In a stern warning to the US and Russia, leader of the most-feared terrorist group Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has claimed that jihadists had prepared “horrors” for them. In a purported audio message, Baghdadi has asserted the “caliphate will remain, God willing”. In the Telegram message on the occasion of Eid al-Adha yesterday, Baghdadi claimed, “Those who forget their religion, patience, jihad against their enemies, and their certainty in the creator’s promise lose and are disgraced,” the leader said. “But when they hold on to it, they are mighty and victorious, even if after a certain time.”
The audio is the first purported recording of the IS leader to be released since September last year. This comes at a time when IS has lost most of its territory in Iraq and Syria. IS overran large swathes of Syria and neighbouring Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a “caliphate” in areas they controlled. But they have since lost most of that to various offensives in both countries.
It was not clear when the message was recorded, but Baghdadi appeared to criticise a USD 100-million pledge by Saudi Arabia last week to help rebuild Syria’s northeast. Speaking of war-torn Syria, he criticised rebel fighters for agreeing to surrender deals with the Damascus regime and called on opposition fighters to join his jihadist group.
The IS chief made his only known public appearance in Iraq’s second city of Mosul in July 2014. Baghdadi has been pronounced dead on several occasions, but an Iraqi intelligence official said in May that he remains alive in Syrian territory by the Iraqi border. Baghdadi was said to move around with only a small group of followers. Originally from Iraq, Baghdadi has been dubbed the “most wanted man on the planet” and the United States is offering a USD 25 million rewards for his capture.