Video of ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi emerges, talks about Sri Lanka blasts
Washington, Apr 29: A video of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has appeared for first time in five years in a propaganda video released Monday by the jihadist organisation.
It is unclear when the footage was filmed, but the man said to be Baghdadi referred in the past tense to the months-long fight for Baghouz, IS's final bastion in eastern Syria, which ended last month.
In the 18-minute video clip, the man said to be Baghdadi can be seen sitting on a couch next to an AK-47 assault rifle, dressed in black and a beige jacket, talking to three others whose faces cannot be seen. Baghdadi says the recent terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka, which killed around 300 people, were an act of revenge for the group's defeat in Syria's Baghouz.
Published by ISIS media arm Al-Furqan on messaging app Telegram, the footage shows 47-year-old praising foreign fighters from who joined the group and calls on supporters to attack the "crusaders" - specifically France.
The leader, whose death or serious injury has been reported repeatedly in recent years, appears well - undermining the most recent word of him appearing thin and frail.
He appeared for the first and last time in public in Mosul in 2014, where he declared an Islamic "caliphate" in the swathes of territory IS 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 IS and as US-backed forces closed in next door in Syria.