(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –ISIS terror chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is seen for the first time in almost five years in a new video released to prove he’s still alive, The SUN reported.
The world’s most wanted terrorist can apparently be heard name-checking the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka as revenge for their losses in the Syrian city of Baghouz in a speech to his closest followers.
The extremist group’s propaganda arm, Al-Furqan, today released a video it called “In the Hospitality of the Emir of the Believers”.
In the the 18 minute recording, the world’s most wanted terrorist can be heard addressing the end of the so-called caliphate, which once stretched across tracts of Iraq and Syria and ruthlessly ruled over 10 million people.
It seems be designed to show al-Baghdadi is alive and still in command of the on-the-run terror group as it plots new atrocities around the world.
Mystery had surrounded his whereabouts for some time. He was said to have been seriously wounded in an air strike in 2015.
But in the propaganda video he seems to have recovered.
He appears with a bushy grey and red beard, wearing a black robe with a beige vest and is seated on the floor with what appears to be a machine gun propped up next to him.
Al-Bagdadi acknowledged that ISIS lost the war in the eastern Syrian village of Baghouz, which marked the end of the caliphate.
But he says: “In fact, the battle of Islam and its people against the Crusaders and their followers is a long battle.”
The battle of Baghouz, he argues, demonstrates the “barbarism and brutality” of the West and the “courage, steadfastness and resilience of the nation of Islam”.
He added: “This steadfastness shocked the hearts of the Crusaders in what increased their rage.”
Referring to the setbacks in battle, he said the “brothers” of the many fallen fighters “will avenge that, as they will not forget as long as they have blood in their veins, and there will be a battle after this one”.
After the complete collapse of the caliphate last month he was thought to be have gone into hiding in the desert regions of Iraq or Syria.
It is unclear when and where the video was filmed.
But terror expert Rita Katz, of SITE Intelligence Group, said: “The video shows Baghdadi in a casual conversational setting with others (their faces blurred).
“He talks about war against ‘Crusaders’ and about battles in Baghouz in Syria being over, indicating that this interview was filmed somewhat recently.”
The siege at Baghouz lasted 10 weeks and ended in March, marking the complete collapse of the caliphate.
In an audio-only section, he praises the Sri Lanka hotel and church suicide bombers, claiming the massacre was “revenge”.
Terror experts said that part was likely added afterwards to bring it up to date.