IS group chief Baghdadi appears in progaganda video for first time in five years - VIDEO | Eurasia Diary -

18 July, Thursday

IS group chief Baghdadi appears in progaganda video for first time in five years - VIDEO

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The Islamic State group's elusive supremo Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his first purported appearance in five years in a propaganda video released Monday, acknowledging IS's defeat in the Syrian town of Baghouz while threatening "revenge" attacks.

The world's most wanted man was last seen in Mosul in 2014, announcing the birth of IS's much-feared "caliphate" across swathes of Iraq and Syria, and appears to have outlived the proto-state.

In the video released by IS's Al-Furqan media arm, the man said to be Baghdadi referred to the monthslong fight for IS's final redoubt Baghouz, which ended in March.

"The battle for Baghouz is over," he said, sitting cross-legged on a cushion and addressing three men whose faces have been blurred.

"God ordered us to wage 'jihad.' He did not order us to win," he said.

The man insisted IS's operations against the West were part of a "long battle," and that IS would continue to "take revenge" for members who had been killed.

"There will be more to come after this battle," he said.

"ISIS's territorial defeat in Iraq and Syria was a crushing strategic and psychological blow as ISIS saw its so-called caliphate crumble, its leaders killed or flee the battlefield, and its savagery exposed," he said.

The speaker identified as Baghdadi referred encouragingly to popular protests in Sudan and Algeria, apparently to demonstrate the video was recent.

"The mention of places like Sri Lanka and Sudan are largely to timestamp the video, to show that it wasn't created a long time ago," said Amarnath Amarasingam, senior research fellow at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue.

He said the references to lost territory were also an effort to reshape IS's narrative.

"Part of the importance of someone like him is to contextualise the defeat... to show that this was either an expected turn of events, or that it might be unfortunate but that it's survivable," Amarasingam told AFP.

At the end of the video, he appeared to examine monthly reports of IS's global activities, including in areas that have not been officially declared IS "provinces" yet.

France 24

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