An audio recording of the Islamic State leader – who was previously reported dead from Russian airstrikes – purportedly resurfaced Wednesday evening on a website run by the extremist group.
In the 54-minute recording titled, “Give Glad Tidings to the Patient,” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made multiple references to current affairs. If the voice on the audio is confirmed to be that of al-Baghdadi, it would indicate he is still alive.
Al-Baghdadi congratulated his followers on the occasion of Eid al-Adha, an Islamic holiday, and referenced Turkey’s recent quarrel with the U.S. over its detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson.
He purportedly said “America is going through the worse time in its entire existence,” and said Russia was competing with the U.S. over regional influence and clout.
Al-Baghdadi’s whereabouts has eluded captors since the rise of the Islamic State. His only public appearance was in 2014 in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. His last know audio recording was released on Sept. 28, 2017.
There have been recurring reports of his death or injury, including reports by Russian officials last year who said there was a "high probability" that al-Baghdadi was killed in a Russian airstrike on the outskirts of the Syrian city of Raqqa. U.S. officials later said they believed he was still alive. He is believed to be hiding in the desert that stretches in the Syrian-Iraqi border region.
The Islamic State has lost around 90 percent of the lands bordering Iraq and Syria since declaring a caliphate in June 2014.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.