ISIS Leader Baghdadi Reportedly Heard on New Tape

ISIS releases recording of leader al-Baghdadi

Washington, Sep 28 (AFP) The United States is still trying to verify a purported recording of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who had been rumoured to be dead, but suggested the tape released today could well be real. In the recording released Thursday, Baghdadi urges his followers in IS to keep fighting and target Western media centers while accusing the U.S. of lacking "the will to fight".

The recording, which has yet to be verified, involved references to recent geopolitical developments, including USA tensions with North Korea, in an apparent attempt to dismiss persistent reports that Baghdadi had been killed on the battlefield.

Shortly after the jihadists swept across swathes of Iraq in June 2014, Baghdadi appeared before thousands of faithful at Mosul's Great mosque of Al-Nuri to urge Muslims around the world to join his "caliphate" straddling Syria and Iraq. According to western diplomats, the Islamic State's most senior leadership are mostly believed to be around the city of Mayadeen in eastern Syria, now a key military target for the US -led coalition.

American officials publicly doubted Moscow's assertion, and said that the Iraqi native Baghdadi is probably still alive either in his home country or Syria.

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"With God's will and his strength, we are staying determined, patient.The abundance of killing will not stop us", Baghdadi said in the audio recording.

Speculation has swirled about the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the little-seen cleric at the center of ISIS, since Russian forces said earlier this summer that it was "highly likely" he had been killed in an airstrike.

He now has a $25 million bounty on his head from the USA government.