BEIRUT – The Islamic State group on Thursday released an audio message purportedly from its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who has not been seen or heard from in months.
The 35-minute audio message posted on militant websites features a voice that sounds like al-Baghdadi’s exhorting all Muslims to take up arms and fight on behalf of the group’s self-styled caliphate. The speaker references the Saudi-led air campaign against Shiite rebels in Yemen, which began on March 26, and harshly criticizes the Saudi royal family.
“Islam was never a religion of peace. Islam is the religion of fighting,” he said. “No one should believe that the war that we are waging is the war of the Islamic State. It is the war of all Muslims, but the Islamic State is spearheading it. It is the war of Muslims against infidels.”