Published On: Thu, May 14th, 2015

Islamic State releases ‘al-Baghdadi message’

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 There have been reports Baghdadi has been injured in air strikes, but none has been confirmed

There have been reports Baghdadi has been injured in air strikes, but none has been confirmed

Islamic State (IS) has released an audio message it says is from its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, which if confirmed would be the first in months.

The message urges Muslims to take up arms in its cause and emigrate to the “caliphate” it has proclaimed in areas of Syria and Iraq.

Analysts say the voice appears to be Baghdadi’s but this is not verified.

Baghdadi’s fate has been unclear amid reports of air strikes by the US-led coalition that is opposing IS.

The message came as IS advanced to within 2km (1.2 miles) of the Unesco World Heritage site of Palmyra, one of the archaeological jewels of the Middle East.

Syria’s antiquities chief warned that if IS seized Palmyra it would destroy everything that exists there.

‘War of Muslims’

The latest message was released by the group’s al-Furqan media outlet and appeared on several websites.

The speaker says: “There is no excuse for any Muslim not to migrate to the Islamic State… joining [its fight] is a duty on every Muslim. We are calling on you either to join or carry weapons [to fight] wherever you are.”

He adds: “Islam was never a religion of peace. Islam is the religion of fighting. No-one should believe that the war that we are waging is the war of the Islamic State. It is the war of all Muslims, but the Islamic State is spearheading it. It is the war of Muslims against infidels.”

The speaker also makes references to the recent Saudi-led air campaign against Shia rebels in Yemen, which began on 26 March. He condemns the Saudi royal family and says the conflict in Yemen will lead to the end of its rule.

Baghdadi’s last message was in November.

His only public appearance was to deliver a sermon in Mosul in Iraq after IS took the city last July.

An Iraqi interior ministry spokesman said in April that Baghdadi had been seriously wounded in a coalition air strike in March.

However, other reports last year of him being injured proved to be inaccurate.

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