On Wednesday, ISIS media wing al-Furqan published an unconfirmed audio message from ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who hasn’t been heard from since Sept. 28, 2017.
The audio, which has yet to be confirmed, is a 55-minute segment that includes al-Baghdadi acknowledging that ISIS groups are being defeated but said this is a test from Allah, CNN reported.
He tells listeners they need to stay close because they are being tested with “fear and hunger” but said “glad tidings” will be given to those who “patiently persevere.”
Baghdadi spoke about the colossal losses that ISIS has suffered and said: “For the believer Mujahideen, the scale of victory or defeat is not counting on a city or town being stolen or subject to those who have aerial superiority, or intercontinental missiles or smart bombs, and not how many followers they have. The scale depends on how much faith the worshipper has.”
The ISIS leader also referenced the strains between the United States and Turkey, and the Aug. 1 sanctions the U.S. placed on Turkey for not adhering to demands to release American Pastor Andrew Brunson, who is detained there.
He said America uses “the gang policy” and it is a “sign of weakness.”
Baghdadi added that Russia and Iran are carefully considering a revolt against the sanctions so they don’t have a similar state of affairs with North Korea.
He also ridiculed rebel surrenders in southern Syria, to President Bashar Assad’s forces, calling them traitors; he urges fighters to join ISIS instead.
— The Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) September 29, 2017
Baghdadi pleaded with Sunni Muslims to crush the Jordan government, allies of both the UK and U.S.
He also gave blessings to “lone wolves in the lands of crusaders in Canada, Europe and elsewhere for their work in supporting their brothers.”
He gave orders to ISIS supporters to execute modest attacks, stating: “A bullet or a stab or a bomb would be worth a thousand operations. And don’t forget to drive into crowds in the streets.”
It has been rumored and reported in the past that Baghdadi is dead.
After Russia announced that Baghdadi was dead or badly injured in an airstrike on May 28, 2017, he released an audio message in September 2017.
Due to the high number of false reports of his death, analysts cautioned that reports of Baghdadi’s death should be taken lightly.
U.S. Central Command spokesperson Capt. William Urban said: “I am not going to comment on our assessment of the recording. We do not know where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is at this time, but he continues to be someone that we are interested in removing from the battlefield.
“US Central Command is aware of the alleged audio recording,” Urban said. “I am not going to comment on our assessment of the recording. We do not know where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is at this time, but he continues to be someone that we are interested in removing from the battlefield. I do not believe that any official US government source has ever claimed that he is dead.”
U.S. officials believe Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is alive, he added.