ISIS releases message in which leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi calls for recruits to “fight”
(CNN) — ISIS released an online audio statement Thursday in which Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the militant Islamist organization, calls for recruits from around the world to “fight in his land or wherever that may be.”
CNN Arabic speakers said the voice was consistent with al-Baghdadi’s previous recordings and showed no signs of frailty.
Al-Baghdadi mentions the Saudi air campaign in Yemen, which started March 26. The recording seems to prove he survived after reportedly being seriously wounded in a coalition airstrike in northern Iraq earlier this year.
The Arabic language recording was posted online along with written translations in English, Turkish, German, French and Russian.
Buck Sexton, a former CIA counterterrorism analyst, told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin on Thursday that ISIS may be sending a message to its enemies.
“This is obviously ISIS trying to say, ‘Yeah, yeah, you thought you got him but you didn’t. Keep dreaming,’ ” he said.
Al-Baghdadi’s health is important now that Iraqi authorities have said Abu Alaa al-Afari, his top deputy, and a senior ISIS security figure named Akram Qirbash were recently killed in an airstrike. The Pentagon has not corroborated that claim.
Al-Baghdadi rarely makes media pronouncements.
In November 2014, a 17-minute audio was released on an ISIS social media site in which he purportedly mocked the U.S.-led coalition put together to destroy ISIS as “terrified, weak and powerless.”
That audio was released a few days after Iraqi officials said al-Baghadi had been wounded in an air strike — a claim the United States could not confirm at the time.
Laith Alkhouri, a senior analyst at Flashpoint Partners, a U.S. outfit that tracks jihadist websites, said analysts believed the November audio was authentic.