Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi called on all Muslims to fight the “war” against the enemy in a rare audio statement released on Thursday. The group’s al-Furqan media wing released the 35-minute recording after weeks of rumors that Baghdadi had been seriously injured by a U.S.-led coalition airstrike in Iraq.
“Do not think the war that we are waging is the Islamic State’s war alone,” Baghdadi allegedly said in the recording. “It is the war of every Muslim in every place, and the Islamic State is merely the spearhead in this war.”
There was no indication of when the statement was recorded, so it cannot be taken as an indicator of Baghdadi’s good health.
Baghdadi called on all Muslims to make their way to the militant group also known as ISIS’ so-called caliphate. He warned that those who had strayed from the caliphate should repent “while our swords are at a distance of two bow lengths or nearer from your necks.”
Though his call for hijrah (emigration) was to all Muslims, he specified the importance of hijrah to Sunni Muslims living as refugees in Iraq under Shiite or Kurdish authorities. Gaining followers in refugee camps will allow the militant group to extend its reach in areas of Iraq it has not yet been able to seize.
In the statement, Baghdadi also made it a point to “commend” the ISIS fighters in several of its other provinces like Yemen, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia and West Africa. He did not accept the allegiance of any new groups, nor did he announce any plans for expansion of the caliphate.