Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi appears in first video in nearly five years

Note: This article will be updated with specific quotes and other details from Baghdadi’s video.

For the first time in nearly five years, the Islamic State has released a video of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi speaking. The last time he was seen on camera was in early July 2014, just days after his men declared him the supposed caliph. While the so-called caliphate has produced a small number of audio messages from Baghdadi since then, he hasn’t been pictured.

Unlike his triumphant appearance in Mosul in 2014, Baghdadi is recorded sitting, speaking to his men. He specifically references current events, including the Islamic State’s loss of Baghouz, a location that was considered the last bit of ground under the jihadists’ control.

Baghdadi praises the dozens of operations conducted by his loyalists around the globe as revenge for the loss of Baghouz and other territory in Syria. Toward the end of the production, in a bit of audio that appears to have been recorded after the main video, Baghdadi specifically highlights the bombings in Sri Lanka. Like other Islamic State plots, he portrays the Easter Sunday attacks as a response to his group’s defeats and losses elsewhere.

Baghdadi does not mention the terrorist attack by a white supremacist in Christchurch, New Zealand. Sri Lankan authorities have claimed that the Easter bombings were retaliation for that massacre, but the Islamic State itself has not made this argument.

Other bits of Baghdadi’s message indicate that it was recorded fairly recently. He also praises Abu Walid al Sahrawi, the head of the Islamic State’s arm in the Sahara, and his men for carrying out operations in West Africa.

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • RSF says:

    Was Baghdadi one of the GITMO terrorists that the last Administration released? Thanks.

  • irebukeu says:

    Well, I was one of the “He’s already dead” crowd. I posted my opinion here-that he was already dead. I thought the Russians deleted him near ar-Raqqa
    Here I am to eat crow.

    This guy gets hauled around by his followers and kept safe somehow? The gun must be all for show. His followers are eating beans from a can, get cluster bombs and white phosphorous for desert while he gets fat. Look at him getting fat like a hog (pun intended). He probably recorded it right after lunch or dinner. Its time for his nap. A big freaking long one. He’s late for it.

  • Dan says:

    It isn’t him, Baghdadi is dead.

  • Thanks to Thomas & LWJ/FDD for their relentless good and truly noble endeavors,

    The article posted correlates with an FDD post below :


    On September 9, 2015, it was reported that Malaysian authorities have arrested more than 122 individuals since 2013 who either joined the Islamic State and returned home or were stopped while attempting to leave the country. That figure indicates an almost doubling of Islamic State-related arrests by Malaysian authorities between 2014 and 2015.

    Authorities have also identified between 100 and 200 people currently (at that time) inside Malaysia who support the Islamic State.

    Hence, all of the above supports the hypothesis of an Islamic State terror financing network operating in Malaysia.


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