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  • ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi appears in first video in five years.

    ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi appears in first video in five years. | Photo: AFP

Published 30 April 2019

"Our battle today is a battle of attrition with the enemy ... Jihad continues until judgment day, and God ordered us to jihad, but not to victory."

Islamic State's media network on Monday published a threatening video message allegedly from its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in what would be his first appearance since declaring the jihadists' now-defunct "caliphate" five years ago.

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In the 18-minute video from the Al Furqan network, a bearded man with Baghdadi's appearance says the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka were IS's response to losses in its last territorial stronghold of Baghouz in Syria.

The group will seek revenge for jailed and killed members, he says, calling for militants operating in west Africa to multiply attacks against "Crusader France and its allies."

Al-Baghdadi, who first appeared in a video in the Iraqi city of Mosul five years ago, looked considerably older and visibly exhausted after his caliphate collapsed these past few years.

The video, recorded in April according to an introductory script, opened to show the IS leader-sitting cross-legged on the floor giving an address to three aides whose faces were intentionally blurred.

The speaker appears to be in good health and looks like a slightly older version of Baghdadi than when he was pictured in 2014, addressing followers from a pulpit to declare a caliphate stretching across Iraq and Syria.

In the footage released on Monday, he is dressed in black robes and a beige waistcoat, with a long graying beard dyed red at the bottom. A rifle leans against the wall behind him.

"Our battle today is a battle of attrition with the enemy ... Jihad continues until judgment day and God ordered us to jihad, but not to victory," he said.

He congratulated militants in Libya for a deadly attack earlier this month on the southern desert town of Fuqaha, where they later retreated, and militants in Burkina Faso and Mali for pledging allegiance to Islamic State.

He also asked God to protect them and Abu Waleed al-Sahrawi, the leader of IS in the Greater Sahara. "We recommend the mujahideen to drain their enemies of all their human, military, economic and logistical capabilities," he said.

The terrorist leader also claimed responsibility for the terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka, which left more than 250 people dead. 

According to Al-Baghdadi, the Easter Sunday bombings were "in revenge for their brothers in Baghouz."

The group had carried out 92 operations in eight countries in revenge for their losses, he said, without giving a timeframe for the attacks. Baghdadi's last known audio recording was released in August 2018.

At the end of the video, one of the aides passes laminated files to Baghdadi labeled with some of the countries or regions in which IS has been active, including Somalia, Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, west Africa, Yemen and Libya.

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