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ICC Note: Yesterday ISIS released an audio recording of its leader al-Baghdadi, whose last audio message was nearly a year ago. In recent months, there have been conflicting reports on whether al-Baghdadi is alive. The audio recording, if the voice authenticity is verified, references recent events and suggests that al-Baghdadi is not only alive but still an influential figure within ISIS. The recording specifically referenced imprisoned Pastor Andrew Brunson’s case as an example to encourage ISIS militants to keep fighting.               

08/23/2018 Iraq (ABC) – The Islamic State group has released a new militant audio recording, purportedly of its shadowy leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, his first in almost a year.

In the audio, al-Baghdadi — whose whereabouts and fate remain unknown — urges followers to “persevere” and continue fighting the group’s enemies everywhere.

The 54-minute audio entitled “Give Glad Tidings to the Patient” was released by the extremist group’s central media arm, al-Furqan Foundation, on Wednesday evening.

The audio’s authenticity could not be independently verified and there were no clues as to where it was recorded.

The question of whether al-Baghdadi is dead or alive has been a continuing source of mystery and confusion. The extremist group has lost around 90 percent of territory it controlled in Iraq and Syria in 2014, when IS declared its so-called “caliphate.”

He is believed to be hiding somewhere in the desert that stretches across the Syrian-Iraqi border region. His last audio message was on Sept. 28, 2017 in which he called on his followers to burn their enemies everywhere and target “media centers of the infidels.”

In Wednesday’s recording, al-Baghdadi congratulates followers on the occasion of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Ada and makes references to current events, including Turkey’s row with the United States over its detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson.

If the voice on the audio is confirmed to be that of al-Baghdadi, this would date the message to this month and disprove reports of his death.

“America is going through the worst time in its entire existence,” al-Baghdad says, adding that Russia is competing with the U.S. over regional influence and clout.

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