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 world’s most wanted terrorist can apparently be heard name checking the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka and the end of the battle in Baghouz in a speech to his closest followers at his secret hideout.
The extremist group’s propaganda arm, Al-Furqan, today released the 18 minute video called “In the Hospitality of the Emir of the Believers”.
In it 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 ruled over 10 million people.
It seems be designed to show he is alive and still in command of the on-the-run terror group as it plots new atrocities around the world.
Mystery has 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 appears 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.
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 the video was shot.
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.
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The terror chief is believed to have been born in Samarra, north of Iraqi capital Baghdad, in 1971.
He was reportedly a cleric in a mosque when the city was invaded by US-led forces in 2003.
He was previously the leader of extremist group al-Qaeda in Iraq which eventually transformed into ISIS in 2010.
Al-Baghdadi’s only known public appearance on video was in 2014 when he delivered a sermon in Mosul, Iraq, annouciing the formation of the ill-fated caliphate.
More to follow…
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