IS Says it Releases News Audio of Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

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The Islamic State terror group has issued a new audio recording , claiming to show the group’s reclusive leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi encouraging his supporters and fighters to conduct more military operations and engage in more propaganda.

The recording, posted to the internet Monday by IS’s al-Furqan media division, also calls on IS supporters not to forget about Muslims being held in prisons and refugee camps.

U.S. officials have yet to comment on the purported recording.

Earlier this year, the terror group released a video of the man it claimed was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi seeking revenge for the fall of the terror group’s self-declared caliphate In Iraq and Syria.

FILE -  This image made from video posted on a militant website July 5, 2014, purports to show the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, delivering a sermon at a mosque in Iraq.
IS Claims Video Shows Reclusive Leader, Calls for Revenge
The Islamic State issued a new video Monday claiming to show its reclusive leader delivering a message to his followers, urging them to seek revenge for the fall of the terror group’s self-declared caliphate In Iraq and Syria.

The more than 18-minute-long video posted to the internet by IS’s al-Furqan media division shows a man, allegedly Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, sitting cross-legged against a white backdrop with a machine gun and a couple of pillows by his side. 

The man is seen speaking with other IS members, whose faces are blurred or covered with masks, acknowledging the recent fall of the

Before that, the 48-year-old Baghdadi had not been seen since he gave a sermon at the al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul, Iraq, in July 2014.

The lack of public appearances and the sporadic messages attributed to him had led to speculation about his whereabouts, while also sparking numerous rumors of his death. But U.S. military and intelligence officials have long believed Baghdadi is alive and hiding in remote areas of Syria or Iraq where IS remains entrenched, possibly with local support.

Since 2016, the United States has offered a reward of up to $25 million for information that helps bring Baghdadi to justice. Only one other person, al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, has a reward that high.

VOA’s Jeff Seldin contributed to this report.