After years of keeping out of the public spotlight, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, seemed to appear in a recently-posted ISIS video.
Rabat – For the first time in five years, ISIS has released a new video message featuring who it claims to be Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the terror group’s leader.
In the video, Baghdadi appeared sitting cross-legged on the ground next to an assault rifle and spoke on-camera for approximately 40 seconds. During the video, he announced the end of the battle for Baghouz, a town in eastern Syria which was the terrorist group’s final stronghold.
“Truthfully, the battle of Islam and its people against the cross and its people is a long battle,” Baghdadi said in the video. “The battle of Baghouz is over. But it did show the savagery, brutality, and ill intentions of the Christians towards the Muslim community.”
In late March, the Syrian Democratic Forces, a coalition of Kurdish and Arab soldiers backed by US, British, and French special forces, pushed ISIS out of Baghouz, marking the collapse of the group’s self-proclaimed caliphate.
Later in the video, the man claiming to be Baghdadi praised the recent Easter Sunday church bombings in Sri Lanka, which killed more than 250 people and wounded at least 500 on April 21. He also referenced recent political events, including Benjamin Netanyahu’s election victory in Israel, the resignation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in Algeria, and the ousting of President Omar al-Bashir in Sudan.
If proven authentic, the video, which ISIS media wing al-Furqan posted on Monday, would be the first time Baghdadi has been seen since July 2014—when he proclaimed the existence of the caliphate at the Great Mosque in Mosul, a city in northern Iraq.