The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has issued an unverified audio recording that it said was by its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, calling on supporters around the world to join the fight in Syria and Iraq or to take up arms wherever they live.
If confirmed, it would be Baghdadi’s first message since reports said he was wounded earlier this year in Iraq.
Some analysts had said he was no longer running the group and others suggested he had died.
In the recording, issued by the group’s al-Furqan media outlet and posted on several websites, a voice sounding like Baghdadi’s 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 join or carry weapons (to fight) wherever you are.”
The authenticity of the audio or its date is yet to be verified.
In the message, Baghdadi tells the rulers of Saudi Arabia, who he considers his enemies, that “their end is near”, adding that Gulf rulers felt threatened by the growing popularity of his group among Sunni Muslims.
The audio makes reference to the Arab coalition operation led by Saudi Arabia in Yemen against Shia Houthi rebels.
“They have lost their so-called legitimacy … When they felt that their masters, the Crusaders and the Jews, have replaced them with the Rafeda they launched their so-called war against Rafeda in Yemen,” he said, using a derogatory term for Shias.
“They claim that they are defending the Sunnis … They are lying. It is a desperate attempt to deter Muslims from joining the Islamic State … [because] it is defending them and this terrifies the sons of Saloul,” he said using a derogatory term to describe the rulers of Saudi Arabia.
The group considers all those who oppose it to be infidels.