Isis supporters claim forthcoming audio release will feature speech from Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi after months of silence

Reports have claimed the leader of Isis was seriously injured in air strikes

Heather Saul
Friday 15 May 2015 07:51
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Absent leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
Absent leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Isis supporters are claiming a new audio due to be released from the extremist group’s al-Furqan media arm will feature the absent leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The speculation comes at what appears to be a tumultuous time for Isis and its leadership. A number of reports in recent months claimed Baghdadi was incapacitated by US-led coalition air strikes and temporarily replaced by former physics teacher Abu Alaa Afri.

However, initial claims that Baghdadi was hit in a strike in March were disputed by the Pentagon and analysts were skeptical over whether a self-declared ‘caliph’ would even allow a deputy to serve underneath him.

On Wednesday, the Iraqi ministry of defence claimed Afri had been killed in an air strike targeting a mosque in northern Iraq. A spokesperson for the US coalition later denied it had attacked a mosque, according to the BBC.

The latest release could be the terror group's attempt at dispelling claims Baghdadi has been seriously hurt or replaced.

As a media arm for the group, al-Furqan has distributed a host of violent images and videos depicting atrocities condemned by human rights groups as war crimes online, including the execution of a Jordanian pilot, who was burned alive in a cage.

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