On Saturday, ISIS released a not-so-nice Christmas message from its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. If authentic, the audio recording appears to be al-Baghdadi’s first public statement since May, when he urged Muslims to either “migrate to the Islamic State or fight in his land wherever that may be.”
This time, al-Baghdadi focused on threats to his organization, including United States- and Russia-led airstrikes. While he acknowledged that ISIS had suffered some losses, he insisted that “our state is doing well,” adding, “The more intense the war against it, the purer it becomes and the tougher it gets.” Here’s more, via CBS News:
Then we were struck by hardship and strife … and God’s trial intensified … so much so that the Islamic State was driven out from areas it conquered and controlled … and the land has narrowed down on us … to the point where the Islamic State enemies thought they defeated and exterminated it.
Al-Baghdadi also derided Saudi Arabia’s recently announced anti-terrorism coalition, which consists of 34 mostly Muslim countries. “If it was an Islamic coalition, it would have declared itself free from its Jewish and Crusader lords and made the killing the Jews and the liberation of Palestine its goal,” he said, while warning Jews that “we are getting closer to you.” “The Jews think we forget about [Palestine] and got distracted from it,” he explained. “No, oh Jews. We have not forgotten Palestine and never will.”
Meanwhile, following weeks of fighting, Iraqi troops reportedly pushed ISIS out of the city of Ramadi over the weekend. According to the New York Times, Ramadi is the fourth city in Iraq to be recaptured from ISIS since April.