ISIS has claimed that a new speech circulating online is delivered by group leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, in an apparent effort to thwart reports that he was gravely injured by a U.S. airstrike. The speaker in the new recording, which is nearly 35 minutes long, is introduced as Ibrahim, the Caliph of the Muslims—the name Baghdadi adopted when declaring the caliphate. "Speech will not benefit you without action, for there is no faith without action," the man identified as Baghdadi says. He repeats his previous claim that hijrah, or immigration to the caliphate, is obligatory on all Muslims in an introduction that includes many Quranic references. "Islam was never a religion of peace," he says.
The audio, intended to serve as proof of life, contains some references to recent limitations placed on Muslims in China and to the conflict in Yemen. However, the references are vague, referring simply to fighting against those who reject Allah. Baghadi also appears to reference Operation Decisive Storm in Yemen, which began on March 25 and was declared over at the end of April.
He goes on to mention the bayat, or pledges of allegiance, made by supporters in West Africa and Khorasan. The newer pledge, from Boko Haram, was made in early March.
The statement doesn't include references to key events of the last three weeks, including the ISIS-inspired shooting in Texas, recent territorial loses suffered by Boko Haram, the end of Operation Decisive Storm, and ISIS's purported loss of the central Iraqi city of Tikrit. These omissions made many experts question when the audio was recorded. Rumors of a forthcoming statement from Baghdadi have been online for at least two weeks, and Baghdadi was rumored to have been killed or gravely injured in a March 18th airstrike.