Daesh leader Al-Baghdadi appears in new propaganda video

Update Daesh leader Al-Baghdadi appears in new propaganda video
Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi acknowledged in his first video appearance since 2014 that Daesh had lost the battle for Baghouz, which was captured last month by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. (AP Photo)
Updated 02 May 2019

Daesh leader Al-Baghdadi appears in new propaganda video

Daesh leader Al-Baghdadi appears in new propaganda video
  • It is unclear when the footage was filmed, but Baghdadi referred in the past tense to the months-long fight for Baghouz, Daesh’s final bastion in eastern Syria
  • Baghdadi, 47, had a long grey beard that appeared dyed with henna and spoke slowly, often pausing for several seconds in the middle of his sentences

BAGHDAD: The Daesh group’s leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi made his first appearance in five years in a propaganda video released Monday, acknowledging his group's  defeat at Baghouz while threatening “revenge” attacks.
The world’s most wanted man was last seen in Mosul in 2014, announcing the birth of Daesh’s much-feared “caliphate” across swathes of Iraq and Syria.
In the video released Monday by the extremist group's propaganda wing, the man said to be Al-Baghdadi referred to the months-long fight for Daesh's final redoubt Baghouz, which ended in March.
“The battle for Baghouz is over,” he said, sitting cross-legged on a cushion and addressing three men whose faces have been blurred.
He referred to a string of Daesh defeats, including its onetime Iraqi capital Mosul and Sirte in Libya, but insisted the extremists had not “surrendered” territory.

In response to the video, a State Department spokesman said the US-led coalition against the group would fight across the world to "ensure an enduring defeat of these terrorists and that any leaders who remain are delivered the justice that they deserve."

The United States has a $25-million bounty on Al-Baghdadi’s head.
In a segment in which the man is not on camera, his voice described the April 21 Easter attacks in Sri Lanka, which killed 253 people and wounded nearly 500, as “vengeance for their brothers in Baghouz.”
The man insisted Daesh’s operations against the West were part of a “long battle,” and that Daesh would continue to “take revenge” for members who had been killed.
“There will be more to come after this battle,” he said.
The speaker also referred encouragingly to popular protests in Sudan and Algeria, apparently to demonstrate the video was recent.
“The mention of places like Sri Lanka and Sudan are largely to timestamp the video, to show that it wasn’t created a long time ago,” said Amarnath Amarasingam, senior research fellow at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue.
He said the references to lost territory were also an effort to reshape Daesh’s narrative.
“Part of the importance of someone like him is to contextualize the defeat... to show that this was either an expected turn of events, or that it might be unfortunate but that it’s survivable,” Amarasingam told AFP.
The speaker appeared in a white-walled room lined with cushions, but it was unclear exactly where or when the footage was shot.
He had a long grey beard that appeared dyed with henna and spoke slowly, often pausing for several seconds in the middle of his sentences.
An older-model Kalashnikov assault rifle, similar to those seen in videos of Al-Qaeda former chief Osama bin Laden, leans against the wall behind him.
At the end of the video, he appeared to examine monthly reports of Daesh’s global activities, including in areas that have not been officially declared Daesh “provinces” yet.
The man in the 18-minute video was identified as Al-Baghdadi by both the SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks Daesh, and Hisham Al-Hashemi, an Iraqi expert on the group.