ISIS leader challenges U.S. and allies in appeal to followers

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The Wall Street Journal reports: The leader of Islamic State challenged the U.S. and its European and Arab allies to confront his extremist group on the ground in Iraq and Syria, while telling his followers to persevere despite major recent battlefields setbacks, according to a purported audio message released on Saturday.

“Here are the Christian Crusaders and the nations of disbelief and their group with them, and behind them the Jews. They do not dare to come here on the ground to fight a small group of mujahedeen,” said Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in the audio message, transcribed and translated by the U.S.-based monitoring agency Site Intelligence Group.

“They do not dare to come, because their hearts are full of fear from the mujahedeen,” he added in what is believed to be his first message since May.

In the audio message, Mr. Baghdadi consoled his followers for what he described as recent hardships and tragedies but promised them they would come out stronger and victorious if they persevered. He reminded them of the early trials of the group when it was formed in 2006 as an offshoot of al Qaeda, known as Islamic State of Iraq, only to be weakened by the U.S. and its local Iraqi allies. The group then made a major comeback starting in 2013 when it split from al Qaeda and captured large swaths of Iraq and Syria the following year.

“So the hardship must become more and the tragedies greater so that hypocrisy escapes and belief becomes stronger, and so that victory is laid down,” he said.

“So be steadfast O mujahedeen. In front of you are one of the two good things: either victory or martyrdom,” he added.

Mr. Baghdadi said the fact that major world powers have decided to destroy the group was proof Islamic State was on the righteous path. He accused the West and its allies of waging war against Islam by targeting his group and chastised Muslims everywhere for not realizing this and rising up to defend their faith.

“We are putting you all on alert everywhere and specifically the sons of the Land of the Two Holy Mosques,” he said, referring to Saudi Arabia. “Mobilize, whether you are light or heavy, old and young.”

He rebuked Saudi Arabia’s ruling family for announcing a coalition to fight Islamic State instead of defending Sunni Muslims in Iraq and Syria. [Continue reading…]

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