- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 28, 2017

A new audio recording purportedly featuring commentary by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been released by the terror group.

Large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria that were once controlled by the Islamic State may have fallen to U.S.-led coalition forces in the past year, but the terror group’s leader appears to have eluded death. A 45-minute recording released this week indicates that reports of his demise in June after a Russian airstrike were premature.

“The North Koreans have begun threatening America and Japan with nuclear power, and the Americans, Russians and Europeans live terrified in fear of strikes from the mujahideen,” al-Baghdadi says in the recording.

The last audio message released by the terrorist came in November 2016 as U.S. and coalition forces surrounded Mosul, Iraq.

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters over the summer that he was not convinced al-Baghdadi had perished in Russian airstrikes, but was convinced that his capture or killing was a foregone conclusion.

“I think Baghdadi’s alive,” Mr. Mattis said at the Pentagon, Voice of America reported July 21. “We’re trying to track him pretty closely. He’s declared war on us so he’s going to reap his reward for it.”

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