The re-emergence of Baghdadi

Baghdadi’s appearance should serve as a warning of possible attempts by ISIS and its dormant cells to inspire other murderous attacks.
Sunday 05/05/2019
An image grab from a video that purports to show Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State group, April 29. (AP)
An image grab from a video that purports to show Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State group, April 29. (AP)

The appearance of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi for the first time in five years was meant as a morale booster for his misguided followers and as a warning to the rest of the world that the terrorist group is not finished after the dismantling of its so-called caliphate.

The video in which he was shown was meant to detail the global aspirations of the Islamic State (ISIS), especially beyond its defeat in the Levant.

The propaganda video released April 29 shows that “ISIS has not completely disappeared but suffered painful blows,” said Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi.

Coming on the heels of the Sri Lanka bombings of April 21, which killed more than 250 people, Baghdadi’s appearance should serve as a warning of possible attempts by ISIS and its dormant cells to inspire other murderous attacks.

The Wall Street Journal wrote May 2 that “the Islamic State has lost its caliphate in the Middle East but it retains the capability to cause mayhem thousands of miles away. This is the grim lesson of the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka.”

This is why the release of the video on the eve of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan should inspire legitimate concern even though the organisation is very much weakened and its potential followers under the radar of international security services.

The religious occasion is traditionally used by jihadist groups to incite additional terrorist activities.

Security experts are checking the authenticity of the video but also for hidden messages to potential followers. Baghdadi is shown to receive hard copy folders containing information about specific regions of the world that ISIS considers its “provinces.”

Experts, who have monitored al-Qaeda videos, will be trying to find out whether they should see any specific warning in the mention of some regions and not of others. Whatever flag they carry, terrorist groups remain a danger for all humanity.

6