ISIS reclusive leader rallies followers in purported new audio

2017-09-29 21:31
Leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) jihadist group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.(File, AFP)

Leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) jihadist group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.(File, AFP)

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Cairo - The leader of the Islamic State group urged followers to burn their enemies everywhere and target "media centres of the infidels", according to an audio recording that the extremists said was by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The reclusive leader of ISIS, who has only appeared in public once, also vowed to continue fighting and lavished praise on his jihadis for their valour in the battlefield - despite the militants' loss of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul in July.

The recording was released on Thursday by the ISIS-run al-Furqan outlet, which has in the past released messages from al-Baghdadi and other top figures of the extremist group. The voice in the over 46-minute-long audio sounded much like previous recordings of al-Baghdadi.

His last previous purported message was released in November, also in an audio recording.

"You soldiers of the caliphate, heroes of Islam and carriers of banners: light a fire against your enemies," said al-Baghdadi, a shadowy cleric who has been surrounded by controversy since the Sunni terror group emerged from al-Qaeda in Iraq, its forerunner.

Russian officials said in June there was a "high probability" that al-Baghdadi had died in a Russian airstrike on the outskirts of the Syrian city of Raqqa, the group's de facto capital. US officials later said they believed he was still alive.

Al-Baghdadi's whereabouts are unknown, but he is believed to be in ISIS' dwindling territory in eastern Syria.

'Rewards'

"You soldiers of Islam, supporters of the caliphate everywhere, step up your attacks and include the media centres of the infidels and the headquarters of their ideological war among your targets," he said in the recording, apparently alluding to Western news outlets and research centres.

"Don't you dare allow the Crusaders and the apostates to enjoy a good and comfortable life at home while your brothers are enduring killings, shelling and destruction," added al-Baghdadi, who reminded his followers of the rewards of martyrdom, including "72 wives" from among the maidens of paradise.

He also lauded his fighters for what he called their valiant fight against US-backed Iraqi forces that wrested control of Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, from ISIS after nearly nine months of fighting.

"In Mosul, they defiantly stood firm on a land ruled by God's laws against the infidels and nations of the cross ... only leaving it over their skulls and dead bodies after nearly a year of fighting," he said. "The sons of Islam will willingly continue to sacrifice their blood and bodies for the sake of their creator," he defiantly declared.

In the recording, he also consoled ISIS fighters over the number of major military setbacks suffered in recent months in both Iraq and Syria, but also made a passionate plea for them to rise up and never surrender.

"You Sunnis of Iraq, Syria, Yemen and everywhere ... get out of your beds and shake off oppression ... return to your faith and restore your glory and eminence," he said. In Yemen, Iranian-backed Shi'ite rebels are fighting forces loyal to the internationally recognised government, which is backed by a Saudi-led coalition.

Warning

Addressing Syria's Sunni Muslim majority, he warned them against the "cunning" of the minority Alawites, an offshoot Shi'ite sect from which President Bashar Assad hails, as well as the designs of Turkey and Assad's allies Russia and Iran.

"What have you gained from the conferences of humiliation and the crumbs of supporters except appeasing the Alawites and surrendering your homes?" said al-Baghdadi, adding that Syria's government forces, their allies and other forces fighting ISIS, would "not last an hour" without the air cover provided by the Russia or the US-led coalition.

Al-Baghdadi also spoke of what he called the United States' waning global power, saying Russia was taking advantage of that to cast itself as the super power replacing America. Russia, he added, was in full control of the "Syrian file".

The top priority for Muslims, al-Baghdadi says in the recording, is to "satisfy God".

"Victory against the enemies and the enemy of God comes next," he said.


Read more on:    isis  |  abu bakr al-baghdadi  |  iraq

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