Washington (AFP) – The United States is still trying to verify a purported recording of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who had been rumored to be dead, but suggested audio released Thursday could well be real.
“We are aware of the audio tape purported to be of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi and are taking steps to examine it,” an intelligence community source said in statement to AFP.
“While we have no reason to doubt its authenticity, we do not have verification at this point.”
Thursday’s was the first audio message said to be of Baghdadi since November 2016.
It was not clear when the message released by the IS-affiliated Al-Furqan media group was recorded.
In it, the apparent IS leader lashed out at “infidel nations headed by America, Russia and Iran” who, along with their allies, have inflicted losses on the jihadists during separate anti-IS offensives in Syria and Iraq.
In July, Moscow said it was struggling to confirm if Baghdadi was dead or alive, a month after reporting his possible demise in an air strike near the IS stronghold of Raqa in Syria.