Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was filmed in 'remote' location, says Iraqi prime minister

French defence minister says intelligence services are still analysing the video

Adam Forrest
Wednesday 01 May 2019 01:31 BST
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Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi seen in new video for first time in five years

Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his recently-released propaganda video in a “remote area”, Iraq’s prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi.

Warning that the group remained a powerful threat around the world despite its reduced capabilities, he did not say where the footage was taken.

“Regarding the location of Baghdadi, we can’t give intelligence information right now but it’s clear from the video that he’s in a remote area,” Mr Mahdi told a press conference in Berlin.

Released earlier this week by Isis’ media network the video showed a man it claimed was Baghdadi in what would be his first appearance for five years.

Western intelligence agencies have speculated that he had gone into hiding somewhere in the desert regions of Iraq or Syria.

The authenticity has not been independently verified, and France’s defence minister Florence Parly said her country’s intelligence services were checking its credibility.

“The video of al-Baghdadi – the Caliph without a caliphate – is to be considered with caution at this stage. French services are analysing it,” she wrote on Twitter. “If this video is authentic, it confirms what we have repeated: Daesh (Isis) has no territory, but Daesh has not disappeared.”

Mr Mahdi also argued that Baghdadi’s appearance was an attempt to boost militants and that Isis would attempt to carry out more attacks.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi appears in undated and unlocated video released by Al-Furqan media
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi appears in undated and unlocated video released by Al-Furqan media (Al-Furqan media/AFP/Getty)

“Daesh (Isis) is not just a small organisation, it’s widespread and will try to put confidence back in its militants and carry out acts such as those in Sri Lanka,” he said, referring to the Easter attacks there this month claimed by the group. “But its capabilities have greatly reduced,” he said.

In the 18-minute video from the Al Furqan network, a bearded man with Baghdadi’s appearance said the bombings in Sri Lanka were Isis’ response to losses in its last territorial stronghold of Baghouz in Syria.

A US-backed campaign ended the group’s control of territory in Iraq in late 2017 and in Syria last month, nearly five years after the group took over vast areas in both countries.

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The last few months saw a huge exodus from the Baghouz area. Some 60,000 people left the enclave as it came under bombardment, nearly half of whom were surrendering supporters of Isis, including some 5,000 fighters.

Many were foreigners from Iraq, Kazakhstan, Russia and even France.

Additional reporting by agencies

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