ISIS Leader Baghdadi Reportedly Heard on New Tape

Islamic State releases new audio message from leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

The U.S.is trying to determine the authenticity of an audio recording that purports to be Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's latest message to his followers, the Pentagon told Anadolu Agency on Thursday.

There is no date given to the 46-minute clip, though the supposed Baghdadi does speak about North Korea and its threats against the United States in between encouraging his followers. In the recording released Thursday, Baghdadi urges his followers in IS to keep fighting and target Western media centers while accusing the U.S. of lacking "the will to fight".

In it, the apparent ISIS leader lashed out at "infidel nations headed by America, Russia and Iran" who, along with their allies, have inflicted losses on the jihadists during separate anti-ISIS offensives against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

This is al-Baghdadi's first recorded speech since November 2016, and it comes amid growing speculation over his fate.

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That recording, also released by Al-Furqan, was a rare sign of life from Baghdadi.

Since Baghdadi proclaimed the caliphate stretching across Iraq and Syria in 2014, Iraqi forces have retaken a string of cities in western and northern Iraq including Mosul, where Baghdadi made his announcement from the city's El Nuri mosque.

But U.S. officials have said as recently as August that they believed Baghdadi was alive.

The jihadists have since lost vast territory in both countries, including in Syria to Russia-backed regime troops and a US-supported Kurdish-Arab alliance.

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