A recording believed to be of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi urged Islamic State followers to continue the fight, even as their caliphate crumbles in the Middle East.
The undated recording is believed to be an attempt to quiet rumors of the terrorist leader’s death. It has been almost a year since his last recorded message, according to Reuters. “Beware of retreat, or the feeling of defeat, beware of negotiations or surrender. Do not lay down your arms,” Baghdadi told his soldiers in a 46-minute message.
“Fan the flames of war on your enemies, take it to them and besiege them in every corner, and stand fast and courageous,” he added.
Baghdadi, a prominent figure advocating for the spread of radical Islamic terrorism, encouraged ISIS fighters to take the fight to the centers of the ideological war, the media.
“Soldiers of Islam in every location, increase blow after blow, and make the media centers of the infidels, and where they wage their intellectual wars, among your targets,” he said.
Baghdadi declared the emergence of an Islamic caliphate at the El Nuri mosque in Mosul, Iraq, in 2014. Iraqi forces were able to reclaim the city in July of this year, destroying half of his caliphate. The other half — Raqqa in Syria — is under siege. The North African beachhead established three years ago in Libya was eliminated last year, but there is ongoing fighting in Egypt.
As ISIS falls in the Middle East, the extremist organization appears to be attempting to secure a foothold in Southeast Asia, most notably in the Philippines where a sizable army of Muslim militants who have sworn allegiance to ISIS and carry the same black standard seized control of the southern city of Marawi. Filipino soldiers have been fighting to liberate the city for months.
“With God’s will and his strength, we are staying determined, patient,” Baghdadi said in the recent recording, adding, “The abundance of killing will not stop us.” It is unclear if Baghdadi is alive or dead, but in the message he made references to America’s standoff with North Korea.
The U.S. has offered $25 million for information leading to Baghdadi. Rumors of the ISIS leader’s death pop up from time to time, but no one has yet verified any alleged kill.
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