The leader of Islamic State group has urged followers to burn their enemies and target “media centres of the infidels,” according to an audio recording that the extremists say was made by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
The reclusive figurehead, who has only appeared in public once, also vowed to continue fighting and praised his jihadis for their valour in the battlefield – despite the militants’ loss of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul in July.
The recording was released on Thursday 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-Qaeda 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. US officials later said they believed he was still alive.
“You soldiers of Islam, supporters of the caliphate everywhere, step up your attacks and include the media centres 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 centres.
“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.