ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi appears in video for first time since 2014
The elusive chief of ISIS extremist group Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has appeared for the first time since 2014 in a propaganda video released on Monday by the extremist group’s al-Furqan media network.
It is unclear when the footage was filmed, but al-Baghdadi referred in the past tense to the months-long fight for Baghouz, ISIS’s final bastion in eastern Syria, which ended last month.
“The battle for Baghouz is over,” he said, sitting cross-legged on a cushion and addressing three men whose faces have been blurred.
The extremist group leader discussed Sudan, Algeria, and claims credit for the Sri Lanka attacks, saying they were a response to the takeover of Baghouz, the last ISIS stronghold in Syria.
Al-Baghdadi said that the group would seek revenge for the killing and imprisonment of its militants.
In the video, a bearded man with Baghdadi’s appearance sitting cross-legged on the floor gives an 18-minute address.
Several aides with their faces covered are shown listening.
Written script at the start of the video dated it to earlier in April.
The authenticity and date of the recording could not be independently verified.
It is his first video appearance since he delivered a sermon at the al-Nuri mosque in the Iraqi city of Mosul in 2014, where he declared an ISIS “caliphate” in the swathes of territory the group then held in Syria and Iraq.
He was reported killed or injured multiple times since then.
His last voice recording to his supporters was released in August, eight months after Iraq announced it had defeated ISIS and as US-backed forces closed in next door in Syria.