ISIS Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Seen for First Time in 5 Years: Reports

April 29, 2019 Updated: April 29, 2019

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the largely decimated ISIS terrorist group, is reportedly still alive. Video footage shows him sitting next to a rifle.

The video was published by the terrorist group’s al-Furqan propaganda agency via social media, according to DW.com.

It is the first time he has appeared on camera in five years, however, it’s not clear where or when the video was filmed.

At one point, al-Baghdadi is heard praising the Sri Lanka terrorist attackers.

He also made a reference to the fight for Baghouz, which ended in March 2019, Al Arabiya reported. The defeat in Baghouz meant that ISIS no longer controls any physical territory.

“The battle for Baghouz is over,” he said while addressing three men. Their faces have been blurred in the video.

The last time he was seen on camera was in July 2014 when he was seen giving a speech at a mosque in Iraq during his first public appearance.

In 2017, Russian officials claimed to have killed the reclusive terror leader, but the claim was rejected by the United States. An audio clip that contained his voice further disproved the claim.

Al-Baghdadi took over ISIS in 2010 following the assassination of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, who had led the terrorist organization.

According to Fox News, al-Baghdadi suffers from diabetes, high blood pressure, and he had sustained injuries from an airstrike years ago.

The U.S. is offering $25 million for information leading to his capture.

The Independent reported that his current whereabouts are not known, and he is believed to have gone into hiding somewhere in Syria or Iraq in the desert regions.

Christianity Grows in Former ISIS State

A community of Syrians who converted from Islam to Christianity is growing in Kobani, a town besieged by ISIS for months, and where the tide turned against the terrorists four years ago, Reuters reported.

The converts say the experience of war and the onslaught of a group claiming to fight for Islam pushed them toward their new faith. After a number of families converted, the Syrian-Turkish border town’s first evangelical church opened last year.

Christianity is one of the region’s minority faiths that was persecuted by ISIS.

al-Holm refugee camp
A general view of the al-Hol displaced persons camp is seen in northeastern Syria on Feb. 17, 2019. (Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images)

“After the war with Islamic State people were looking for the right path, and distancing themselves from Islam,” said Omar Firas, the founder of Kobani’s evangelical church. “People were scared and felt lost.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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