(Reuters) – A man purported to be the reclusive leader of the militant Islamic State has made what would be his first public appearance at the grand mosque in Iraq’s second city, Mosul, according to a video recording posted on the Internet on Saturday.
The 21-minute video came after reports on social media that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi would make his first public appearance since ISIS changed its name to the Islamic State and declared him caliph – a title held by successors of the prophet Mohammad.
If confirmed it would be the first public appearance by the head of the militant group that led a military offensive last month that saw swathes of northern Iraq fall to ISIS and other Sunni armed factions. The campaign started on June 10 in Mosul, the north’s biggest city, which was quickly taken by ISIS.
The recording showed a bearded man in a black robe and black turban slowly ascending the pulpit below the black flag of the Islamic State. The recording called him “Caliph Ibrahim, emir of the faithful in the Islamic State, may God protect him.”
It was not immediately possible to confirm the identity of the man in the recording as only one grainy picture of the reclusive Baghdadi has previously been published.
It was also not possible to immediately confirm the authenticity of the recording or the date when it was made…
And, prominent Sunni Muslim scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi said on Saturday that the declaration of an Islamic caliphate by jihadists fighting the governments in Syria and Iraq violates sharia law…