Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi called on his followers to keep fighting, in his first message in about a year, according to an alleged audio released by the extremist group’s media outlet.
“You have no choice, if you want to live in dignity, then you return to your religion and fighting your enemy,” said al-Baghdadi, addressing his followers in Syria.
“It is not only about carrying weapons, but also … do not accept anything but sharia law and die in order to achieve this,” he added, in a 55-minute long message.
He also attacked the U.S., Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for supporting the fight against Islamic State.
“Supporters of the caliphate everywhere, in the media or in the field, we tell you the state is fine,” he said, telling his followers not to worry about losing the cities they controlled in Syria and Iraq.
Dpa could not independently verify the authenticity of the message.
In the speech, he refers to events that took place this month in the region.
Al-Baghdadi’s last speech was released in September 2017.
In 2014, al-Baghdadi proclaimed a self-styled caliphate in Syria and neighbouring Iraq.
In recent months, Islamic State has suffered military setbacks and lost most of its territory in Syria and Iraq, though militants continue to control pockets in both countries.
Al-Baghdadi’s whereabouts and fate remain unknown, in spite of occasional claims that he has been killed.
NAN reports that Al-Baghdadi declared a caliphate in Syria and Iraq in June 2014 days after his fighters captured Mosul, the largest city they ever held.
The group has since horrified the world with its atrocities in areas they held as well as attacks they claimed around the world that killed hundreds.
Al-Baghdadi is a nom de guerre for a man identified as Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri al-Samarrai.
The U.S. is offering a 25 million-dollar reward for information leading to his death or capture