IS reclusive leader rallies followers in purported new audio




  • In Tech
  • 2017-09-28 19:58:34Z
  • By Hamza Hendawi, Associated Press
 

CAIRO (AP) - The leader of the Islamic State group urged followers to burn their enemies everywhere and target "media centers of the infidels," according to an audio recording released Thursday that the extremists said was by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

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

The recording was released by the IS-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-Qaida 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. U.S. officials later said they believed he was still alive.

Al-Baghdadi's whereabouts are unknown but he is believed to be in IS' dwindling territory in eastern Syria. The IS-held cities of Raqqa and Deir el-Zour are under siege and likely too dangerous for him to hide in. Some IS leadership is believed to have gone to the nearby town of Mayadeen, and the group still holds a stretch of the Euphrates River from Deir el-Zour to the Iraqi border, as well as remote desert areas along the border.

"You soldiers of Islam, supporters of the caliphate everywhere, step up your attacks and include the media centers 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 centers.

"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 U.S.-backed Iraqi forces that wrested control of Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, from IS 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 IS 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 Shiite rebels are fighting forces loyal to the internationally recognized government, which is backed by a Saudi-led coalition.

Addressing Syria's Sunni Muslim majority, he warned them against the "cunning" of the minority Alawites, an offshoot Shiite 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 IS, would "not last an hour" without the air cover provided by the Russia or the U.S.-led coalition.

At the peak of its power in 2014 - when the Iraqi army crumbled amid the militants' blitz - IS controlled about a third of both Syria and Iraq but has steadily lost ground in the face of a U.S.-led coalition that has backed Iraqi forces as well as Kurdish-led Syrian fighters battling the extremists across the border in Syria.

Forces loyal to Syria's Assad, backed by Russia and Iran, have also driven IS out of significant territory.

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.

The loss of Mosul was a deep symbolic blow to IS - it was after the group overran the city in June 2014 that the militants declared a caliphate stretching from northern Syria deep into the north and west of Iraq. And it was from Mosul's famed al-Nuri Mosque that al-Baghdadi made his only public appearance at a Friday sermon, declaring the caliphate and calling on Muslims the world over to follow him.

At the time, he vowed that IS would conquer "Rome," and the entire world.

Mosul was also the bureaucratic and financial hub of IS. Raiding Mosul's central bank, and taxing and extorting the city's wealthy inhabitants, made IS the world's richest terrorist organization. Mosul's vast industrial zones were converted into factories for weapons and explosives.

Taking back Mosul from IS came at enormous cost and destruction, especially in the western part of the city. IS fighters had turned the city into a fortress, holding tens of thousands of civilians as human shields.

COMMENTS

More Related News

Iraqi forces drive back Kurdish fighters in independence standoff
Iraqi forces drive back Kurdish fighters in independence standoff

Iraqi forces seized a key military base, an airport and an oil field from Kurdish fighters Monday in disputed Kirkuk province in a major operation sparked by a controversial independence referendum. The rapid advance, which follows weeks of soaring tensions between two US allies in the battle against the Islamic State group, aims to retake oil and military sites that Kurdish forces took over during the fightback against the jihadists. The US-led coalition against IS urged the two sides to "avoid escalatory actions" and to focus on fighting the extremists, who are on the verge of losing their last strongholds in Iraq.

Facebook Is Said to Seek Staff With National Security Clearance
Facebook Is Said to Seek Staff With National Security Clearance

Facebook Inc. is looking to hire people who have national security clearances, a move the company thinks is necessary to prevent foreign powers from manipulating future elections through its social network, ...

Clinton accuses WikiLeaks of blunting impact of crude Trump tape
Clinton accuses WikiLeaks of blunting impact of crude Trump tape

Hillary Clinton Monday accused WikiLeaks of working with Russia to deflect attention away from an infamous tape of Donald Trump bragging about groping women in the run-up to the US presidential election. The former secretary of state's devastating election loss to Trump remains raw and she again lashed out at WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his alleged role in damaging her candidacy. "Assange has become a kind of nihilistic opportunist who does the bidding of a dictator," she said in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, referring to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Final assault starts on Syria
Final assault starts on Syria's Raqqa as some Islamic State fighters quit
  • World
  • 2017-10-15 15:58:11Z

By John Davison and Ellen Francis AIN ISSA, Syria/BEIRUT (Reuters) - U.S.-backed militias launched their "final" assault on Syria's Raqqa on Sunday after letting a convoy of Islamic State fighters and their families quit the city, leaving only a hardcore of jihadists to mount a last stand

The Latest: Russia says Syrian army taken key IS-held town
The Latest: Russia says Syrian army taken key IS-held town

BEIRUT (AP) - The Latest on developments in Syria (all times local):

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Tech

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.