The Islamic State group on Monday released a video purportedly of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was seen praising the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka in his first such appearance in almost five years, AP reported.
The 18-minute video was published by the outfit’s al-Furqan media group on messaging service Telegram and initially picked up by the SITE intelligence group, according to DW.
The purported video shows a bearded man with Baghdadi’s appearance in a room in conversation with the three other people.
Baghdadi praised the attacks in Sri Lanka, but only the audio can be heard in this section. He praised the attackers, saying they conducted the bombings as revenge for the group’s defeat in Baghouz, the group’s last stronghold in Syria.
“As for your brothers in Sri Lanka, they have put joy in the hearts of the monotheists with their immersing operations that struck the homes of the crusaders in their Easter,” Baghdadi said, according to a transcript from SITE Intelligence Group.
He also called on the militants in Sri Lanka who have pledged support to the Islamic State to be “a thorn in the chests of the crusaders”, reported AP. The bombings in Sri Lanka, which killed 253 people, were initially blamed on a local militant named Mohammed Zahran and his followers. The Islamic State group released images of Zahran and others pledging their loyalty to Baghdadi on April 23.
This is the first time Baghdadi has appeared on video since he declared a caliphate in Syria and Iraq five years ago. It is unclear when or where the video was filmed. Text at the start of the video dates it to earlier in April, reported DW.