The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) on Thursday released an audio recording it said was of chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, days after air strikes on jihadist leaders in Iraq sparked rumours he was wounded or killed.
In the 17-minute message, the man purported to be Baghdadi made no direct reference to the strike against IS leadership but mentioned developments that have occurred since. “Be assured, O Muslims, for your state is good and in the best condition,” he said, according to an English transcript of the message released together with the recording.
The audio message was the first of Baghdadi since a video released in July, shortly after IS proclaimed a caliphate over parts of Iraq and Syria, of the jihadist supremo delivering a Friday sermon in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.
The voice in Thursday’s audio document appeared to match but there was no immediate confirmation of its authenticity from other sources.
The United States said that coalition aircraft launched strikes targeting Islamic State leaders near Mosul on Friday, setting off a flurry of speculation that Baghdadi was wounded.
Some reports pointed to another strike near Iraq’s border with Syria, saying Baghdadi was wounded there instead.
In the recording, Baghdadi said that the US-led coalition of dozens of nations contributing to the military effort against IS was failing to defeat his group.