Allegedly dead ISIS leader appears in first video in five years

Baghouz, was the group's last silver of territory which was captured by USA backed Kurdish led Syrian democratic forces.The fall of Baghouz is said to signify the defeat of the self-declared Islamic caliphate over parts of Iraq and Syria.

"The video shows Baghdadi in a casual conversational setting with others (their faces blurred)", said Rita Katz, executive director of the SITE Intelligence Group, a company that tracks the activities of terror groups.

Almost a week after claiming responsibility for the Sri Lanka terror attack, ISIS chief Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi has released a video.

In the video, a bearded man with Baghdadi's appearance sitting cross-legged on the floor gives an 18-minute address.

References in the video to other recent events, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's April 9 polls win, the April 11 coup in Sudan and Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's resignation, indicated the main video recording was made between April 11 and 22.

The authenticity of the video could not be independently verified but terrorism experts saw little reason to doubt that it was

In the five years since his Mosul appearance, the IS has lost nearly all the terrorists it had captured and the remained of al-Nuri Mosque from where Baghdadi gave the sermons, which are now with Iraq Government. "This is part of the vengeance that awaits the crusaders and their henchmen", he said, according to a translation provided by the Site monitoring service.

"The truth is the battle of Islam and its people with the crusaders and their people is a long battle", he said in the video.

USA government analysts "will review this recording and we will defer to the intelligence community to confirm its authenticity", the State Department spokesman said.

"Whatever is the next stage of ISIS, Baghdadi wants to assure his followers that he's still in charge and not incapacitated". First and foremost is the fall of Baghouz, the last of the ISIS controlled territory in Syria which effectively ended the geographic reign of the Islamic State.

Under al-Baghdadi, ISIS seized large areas of the north and centre of Iraq and proclaimed it a "caliphate" in the summer of 2014.

The SITE Intelligence group said Baghdadi spoke in the video about the conclusion of the battle in Baghuz, which was the last IS stronghold in Syria before falling to the USA -backed forces. Apart from speaking about the attack in Sri Lanka and the Syrian war, he is also seen presiding over jihadis from several countries while they take the oath of allegiance to the ISIS and its chief.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was born in 1971 in Samarra, Iraq.

In the most recent audio recording, Baghdadi urged followers to persevere even as the group was losing ground to USA -backed forces.

Baghdadi's lack of public appearances and sporadic messages have led to speculation about his whereabouts and has also sparked numerous rumors of his death.

Second, Baghdadi has referred to the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka in the video.

"These are in the desert of Iraq's Anbar (province) or in the (eastern) desert of Homs in Syria", he said.

  • Tracy Klein