ISIS releases audio of Baghdadi amid speculation on his fate

ISIS releases audio of Baghdadi amid speculation on his fate
© CBS

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has released audio of leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi after months of speculation over whether he’s still alive.

The date of the recording is unclear, but Baghdadi makes reference to North Korean threats against Japan and the U.S., according to multiple reports.

“The North Koreans have begun threatening America and Japan with nuclear power, and the Americans, Russians and Europeans live terrified in fear of strikes from the mujahideen," he said in the recording, according to Newsweek.

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The 46-minute recording, released Thursday by the ISIS-linked Al-Furqan news organization, is Baghdadi’s first since November.

In June, Russia claimed to have killed Baghdadi in airstrikes on a meeting of ISIS leaders outside the city of Raqqa, Syria.

Russia’s claim was met with much skepticism but still led to speculation about Baghdadi’s fate. He has been falsely reported dead multiple times before.

In August, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, at the time the commander of the fight against ISIS, told reporters that Baghdadi was likely still alive but “hasn’t a clue” about his whereabouts.

The recording released Thursday, titled “Sufficient Is Your Lord As A Guide And A Helper,” is mostly dedicated to religious scriptures, according to reports.

Baghdadi also makes reference to cities ISIS has lost or is in the process of losing, saying he’s “certain that bloodshed in Mosul, Raqqa, Sirt, Ramadi and Hama will eventually lead to the downfall of tyrants,” according to a translation from Hassan Hassan, senior fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy.

He also says that Russia has capitalized "on [America’s] weakness to … replace it” by taking “the reins” of the war in Syria, according to Rita Katz, director of SITE Intelligence Group.

Baghdadi’s last recording in November came days after Iraqi special forces entered Mosul’s city limits for the first time since ISIS took control of the city and made it its Iraq stronghold in June 2014.

In that recording, he urged his followers not to retreat, telling them to fight the “infidels” and “make rivers of their blood.”

The U.S.-led coalition and Iraqi officials declared victory in Mosul in July.