Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the secretive leader of the Islamic State group, called for an uprising in Saudi Arabia and pledged to attack Israel, in an audio recording released Saturday and attributed to him.
The 24-minute recording would be Baghdadi’s first in seven months, during which IS has been dealt several blows in Iraq and Syria.
There was no way for AFP to authenticate that it was Baghdadi speaking, but the voice appeared to match previous recordings of him.
And it was not clear when the recording was made, but it referred to a 34-nation anti-IS coalition announced by Saudi Arabia on December 15.
“They announced lately a coalition… falsely called ‘Islamic,’ and announced its goal is to fight the caliphate,” said the speaker in the recording circulating among pro-IS Twitter users.
“If this coalition were Islamic, it would have announced victory and aid to the people of Syria,” he said.
He called on Saudi citizens to “rise up against the apostate tyrants, and avenge your people in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen”.
Baghdadi regularly attacks the Saudi kingdom in his recordings.
In his last message, he accused Saudi rulers of launching an air campaign against Shiite Huthi rebels in Yemen only to please the West.
Baghdadi also pledged to attack Israel, saying IS has “not forgotten Palestine for a single moment”.
“And soon, soon with God’s permission, you will hear the footsteps of the mujahedeen… We are getting closer to you day by day,” he said.
The recording did not appear to be accompanied by multilingual transcripts, which has been in the case with other Baghdadi audio messages.
Baghdadi made his first and last public appearances in the summer of 2014 in the Iraqi city of Mosul, which IS holds.
The Wall Street Journal said he also 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.