ISIL leader urges at­tacks on Canada

Calgary Herald - - CANADA - Liz Sly

BEIRUT • The Is­lamic State leader, Abu Bakr al-Bagh­dadi, resur­faced on Wed­nes­day in an au­dio record­ing in which he urged his followers to wage lone-wolf at­tacks on Canada and Europe.

“We bless those who are in the coun­tries of the cru­saders, in Canada, Europe and else­where,” Bagh­dadi said, ac­cord­ing to a trans­la­tion ob­tained by The New York Times.

He called on followers to tar­get Western­ers. “Carry out an at­tack that breaks their heart, and rip them apart,” he said. “Ei­ther with gun­fire, or a stab to their bod­ies, or a bomb­ing in their coun­tries.”

“Do not for­get about run­ning people over on the roads,” he added.

Ref­er­ences in the speech to re­cent de­vel­op­ments in the Syr­ian war and to the spat be­tween Turkey and the United States over a de­tained Amer­i­can pas­tor sug­gest that he was alive at least un­til very re­cently.

There was no im­me­di­ate con­fir­ma­tion that the voice de­liv­er­ing the 54-minute ad­dress was Bagh­dadi’s, but the speech mark­ing the Mus­lim Eid al-Adha holiday is in keep­ing with the pe­ri­odic out­reaches by the self-pro­claimed “caliph” of the vast ter­ri­to­ries once con­trolled by the Is­lamic State.

His last mes­sage was on Sept. 28 last year, and this one was sim­i­lar in its tone, lan­guage and ex­hor­ta­tions.

Bagh­dadi did not di­rectly ad­dress the fact that the Is­lamic State has now lost around 95 per cent of the lands it seized in 2014, but he ac­knowl­edged that there have been set­backs.

“Sedi­tions and hard­ships (are) in­creas­ing to their dark­est night be­ing cast over the people of Is­lam,” he said.

“The scale of vic­tory or de­feat ... is not tied to a city or vil­lage,” he said. Amer­ica might have boasted of its “so-called vic­tory in ex­pelling the (Is­lamic) State from the ci­ties and coun­try­side in Iraq and Syria, but the land of God is wide and the tides of war change,” he added.

The mes­sage comes as the United States and its Syr­ian Kur­dish al­lies pre­pare for what they hope will be a fi­nal of­fen­sive against one of the last and most sig­nif­i­cant pock­ets of Is­lamic State-con­trolled ter­ri­tory near the Iraqi bor­der in Syria, where it is thought Bagh­dadi is most likely to be hiding.

Two re­cent re­ports by the United Na­tions and U.S. gov­ern­ment sug­gest there may still be 30,000 Is­lamic State fighters or sup­port­ers in Iraq and Syria.

Abu Bakr al-Bagh­dadi

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