ISIS leader re­leases new au­dio mes­sage

The Korea Times - - WORLD -

BEIRUT (AFP) — The Is­lamic State group’s chief has urged fol­low­ers to free de­tained ji­hadists and fam­ily mem­bers held at camps in Iraq and Syria, vow­ing “re­venge” in an au­dio record­ing re­leased Mon­day.

“The pris­ons, the pris­ons, sol­diers of the caliphate!” said Abu Bakr al-Bagh­dadi, the elu­sive head of the group which once con­trolled swathes of Iraq and Syria, in a record­ing pur­port­edly by the IS chief dis­trib­uted via the Tele­gram mes­sag­ing app.

“Do your ut­most to res­cue your broth­ers and sis­ters and break down the walls that im­prison them,” he said in the record­ing re­leased by the ji­hadists’ pro­pa­ganda or­gan.

Thou­sands of fight­ers from the ji­hadist group are held in over­crowded pris­ons in Iraq and Kur­dish-held re­gions of Syria, while tens of thou­sands of their fam­ily mem­bers are held in camps.

In Syria, where IS in March lost the last scrap of its self-de­clared “caliphate,” hun­dreds of sus­pected ji­hadists are in the cus­tody of the Kur­dish-led Syr­ian Demo­cratic Forces which spear­headed the fight against IS.

Kur­dish au­thor­i­ties say 12,000 for­eign­ers from as many as 40 coun­tries, in­clud­ing 4,000 women and twice as many chil­dren, are in camps it runs in north­east­ern Syria.

The Red Cross said in early July that con­di­tions in the camps were “apoc­a­lyp­tic”, urg­ing coun­tries to quickly repa­tri­ate fam­ily mem­bers of sus­pected for­eign fight­ers.

In Iraq, where au­thor­i­ties de­clared vic­tory over the ji­hadists in De­cem­ber 2017, courts in­ves­ti­gat­ing IS-linked crimes have con­demned more than 500 for­eign­ers to prison and death sen­tences.

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