The Islamic State released an audio recording of its leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi on Thursday via the Al-Furqan organization that is linked to the jihadi group,agencies reports. The date on which the 46-minute recording was made was not immediately clear.
The release of the message came against the backdrop of growing speculation over the fate of the elusive leader of the Islamic State’s so-called caliphate after the group lost most of the territory it controlled in Iraq and Syria.
Experts who track the Islamic State said the audio message, shared on the Islamic State’s channels on the Telegram encrypted messaging app, used terms to refer to him that suggested he is alive. The Islamic State had last released a speech by al-Baghdadi in November 2016.
There have been conflicting reports about the fate of al-Baghdadi since late May. The Russian military said the Islamic State chief might have been killed with other top commanders in an air strike on a location near Raqqa in Syria on May 28. But a top Kurdish counter-terrorism official said in July that he was 99% sure al-Baghdadi was alive and located south of Raqqa.