ISIL leader urges attacks on Canada
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