A screenshot of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who appeared on video for the first time in five years last April. (YouTube)

Islamic State Leader Vows Revenge After US-led Coalition Destroys ‘Caliphate’

For the first time in five years, Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi appeared in a video broadcast on the terror group’s Al Furqan media network. During the 18-minute interview, the ISIS chief vowed to take revenge on member-nations of the US-led coalition that recently recaptured the Syrian enclave of Baghouz. This effectively put an end to the “caliphate” al-Baghdadi declared in 2014, which, parenthetically, was the last time he was seen on video. That came at the height of the Islamic State’s rampage across the Middle East, which resulted in the terror group’s forcible acquisition of huge swaths of territory, including major cities in Iraq and Syria. Now, however, without a home base—ISIS’ “capital” Raqqa fell in October 2017—adherents of al-Baghdadi’s radical Islamist ideology have reverted to traditional insurgency and terrorist tactics. In this respect, the terror boss praised the recent coordinated suicide bombings in Sri Lanka—for which ISIS claimed responsibility—that killed 259 people and injured hundreds more. Al-Baghdadi added that the Islamic State was now in a “war of attrition” and called for “lone wolf” attacks particularly in the West. Over the past half-decade, media on numerous occasions reported that the ISIS chief had either been seriously injured or killed, although he seemed healthy in the video. Analysts believe that the Islamic State still poses a threat as it retains an estimated 20,000-30,000 loyalists located primarily in the Middle East and Africa.

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