Iraq Says IS Remains Threat, Leader Baghdadi Filmed Video in 'Remote Area'


Iraqi prime minister Adel Abdel Mahdi said the purported appearance by the jihadist group's elusive supremo Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi showed him in what appeared to be a "very simple and isolated" location.

Al Baghdadi was seen in a video released by the ISIS on April 29, five years after he proclaimed the Caliphate in Mosul, Iraq.

In the 18-minute video, a bearded man with Baghdadi's appearance said the so-called IS would seek revenge for the killing and imprisonment of its militants. In the five years since his Mosul appearance, the IS has lost nearly all territories it had captured.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been rumored dead or severely wounded several times in the past. Raqqa, the de facto capital of the IS, is controlled by Kurdish militias with help from the U.S.

So why did he return?

"We are aware of the video that surfaced today", State Department spokesman Michael Lavallee said.

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Peter Mandaville, a professor of global relations at George Mason University, said Monday's video is "reminiscent" of clips from Osama bin Laden while he was in hiding during the mid-2000s after the 9/11 terror attacks.

Both the foreign intelligence agencies, as well as the Indian intelligence, are carefully evaluating Baghdadi's speech which is apparently aimed at increasing radicalisation by splinter and IS-inspired groups in India and overseas.

The United States has a $25-million U.S. bounty on his head. Many ISIS fighters interviewed after the fall of Baghouz, including women, have shown unrelenting support towards the caliphate and the cause that they fought for.

Speaking to followers whose faces are obscured, Baghdadi proclaims that "the battle of Islam and its people against the cross and its people is a long battle", but concedes his group's loss against a USA -led coalition and mostly Kurdish allies in a small town in Syria's far east.

The Sri Lanka reference suggests that the video is not more than a week old. More than 200 people, including as many as 30 foreigners, were killed in a series of coordinated explosions on Easter Sunday at churches and luxury hotels across Sri Lanka. In the video, Baghdadi asserts that his followers fought till the end in territories and cities where they were forced out by US-backed coalition forces. It is important to see this from the prism that the ISIS installed itself into the political vacuums left behind by the Arab Spring protests of 2011, and the Syrian civil war and discord in Iraq were not caused by the group themselves, rather they took full advantage of the impending chaos.

The UK Guardian on Monday cited intelligence analysts who believe Baghdadi departed Baghouz in haste long before it was recaptured from ISIS due to a violent effort by a dissident faction to overthrow him. In the IS literature, the Westerners have always been called crusaders.