Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi 'photographed in second public appearance' at Fallujah mosque

The 'caliph' of the so-called Islamic State is one of the most wanted men in the world, and public appearances are incredibly rare

Adam Withnall
Thursday 11 February 2016 16:21 GMT
New images purport to show the Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
New images purport to show the Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

The Isis jihadist group appears to have released a new set of images showing a rare public appearance by its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The self-proclaimed "caliph" was last captured on camera in July 2014, when he gave a speech to followers at a mosque in Mosul.

It is impossible to verify the new images, but Isis supporters on social media claim they show Al-Baghdadi speaking to children at a mosque in Fallujah, Iraq.

The risk to the Isis leader's life is such that he no longer addresses large gatherings. The US has placed a $10 million bounty on his head, making him one of the most wanted terrorists in the world.

The undated images claim to show Al-Baghdadi addressing a mosque
Isis supporters claim their leader was addressing children in Fallujah, Iraq
It is impossible to verify the images, which come around 15 months since Al-Baghdadi was last photographed in an address at a mosque

If they do show Al-Baghdadi, the new images do not teach us much we didn't already know about the reclusive militant chief.

Some Isis followers have suggested that a man shown in the far-right on one of the images is the leader's "double" - a logical safety measure given the number of Isis convoys that have been targeted by international air strikes.

The lack of public appearances by Al-Baghdadi tends to fuel speculation that he has been injured or killed, with rare audio statements often the closest thing we have to proof he is still alive.

Isis last issued an audio statement purporting to be from its leader in December last year. In a 24-minute message, he claimed his organisation was "thriving" despite the international forces lined up against it, and acccused the US of being too afraid to fight with troops on the ground.

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