A man believed to be the leader of the Islamic State group has made a rare camera appearance vowing to seek revenge for its loss of territory.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has not been seen since 2014, when he proclaimed from Mosul the creation of a “caliphate” across parts of Syria and Iraq.
In this new footage, he acknowledges defeat at Baghuz, the group’s last stronghold in the region.
It is not clear when the video was recorded. IS says it was shot in April.
The footage was posted on the militant group’s al-Furqan media network.
According to news agency Reuters, Baghdadi says the Easter Sunday Sri Lanka attacks were carried out as revenge for the fall of the Iraqi town of Baghuz.
He also says that he has had pledges of allegiance from militants in Burkina Faso and Mali, and talks about the protests in Sudan and Algeria – claiming that jihad is the only solution to “tyrants”. Both countries have seen their long-term rulers overthrown this month.
However, Baghdadi’s image disappears towards the end of the video and an audio recording of him discussing the Sri Lanka attacks is played instead, suggesting that this part was recorded after the main video was filmed.
Baghdadi – an Iraqi whose real name is Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim al-Badri – was last heard from in an audio recording last August.