ISIS leader calls Muslims ‘to take up arms’ and fight for Islamic state

 

The leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a Sunni militant group, urged Muslims around the world on Tuesday to pursue jihad and join in the quest for a global Islamic state.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the group, released the message in an audiotape that was translated by the ISIS-affiliated Al-Hayat media center. 

“There is no deed in this virtuous month or in any other month better than jihad in the path of Allah, so take advantage of this opportunity and walk the path of your righteous predecessors,” al-Baghdadi said, according to the translation. “So take up arms, take up arms, O soldiers of the Islamic State! And fight, fight!” 

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He said the message was meant to mark the Muslim holiday of Ramadan. 

Al-Baghdadi’s message comes just days after ISIS said it would change its name to the Islamic State and declared a caliphate, an Islamic religious state, in the areas the group now controls in Iraq and Syria. He was named the state’s “caliph” or leader. 

Iraq’s parliament also failed on Monday to launch the process for creating a new unity government after the legislature’s Sunni and Kurdish members walked out of the assembly.

The United States has urged Iraq’s Shiite-led government to bring in minority groups and unite against the threat of ISIS, which now occupies about a third of the country.

It’s unclear where exactly al-Baghdadi is now, but as of last August, the State Department believed he was based in Syria. 

In 2011, State listed him as a “specially designated global terrorist” and offered a $10 million reward for any information that would lead U.S. officials to him.