The leader of the Islamic State (IS), Ibrahim al-Badri (Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi), released a 46-minute audio statement today, his first statement for about eleven months. Entitled, “Sufficient Is Your Lord As A Guide And A Helper” or “Your Lord Suffices as Guide and Helper”, it is al-Badri’s twelfth speech since he became leader of the IS movement in 2011 and the seventh since IS declared the restoration of the caliphate.
The speech begins with an invocation that intends to refute the recent Russian claims to have killed al-Badri. There are then musings on tawhid (monotheism) and IS’s adherence to the true meaning of this principle. This seems to be a reference to IS’s ruling earlier this month that revoked a decision from May that had significantly expanded IS’s definition of heresy among Muslims.
Al-Badri situates the Islamic State in a historic narrative from the creation of earth to the present. Though IS is clearly on the ropes in territorial terms, with most of its caliphate destroyed, al-Badri warns that “one shouldn’t make a link between losing territory and the truth”.
IS has been tenacious, says al-Badri. “[IS’s foot-soldiers] fulfilled their promise and their responsibility, and they did not give up except over their skulls and body parts,” said the caliph. “Thus they were excused, after nearly a year of fighting and confrontation.” Al-Badri added that America and its allies “burned the people, trees, and everything on the ground”, which made IS’s eventual loss of Mosul even more forgivable.
IS’s has remained steadfast despite years of fighting against enemies who are trying desperately to delay the exposure of their differences—the PKK, Turkey, Russia, Iran, and the United States. IS’s “nikaya (war of attrition) continues” to help heighten these contradictions, and it is working, says the caliph.
First, al-Badri praises the foreign attacks campaign that has weakened enemy resolve, recently striking the town of Surgut in Russia, Barcelona in Spain, and the Parsons Green tube station in London. This has left “the Americans, the Russians and the Europeans … living in terror in their countries, fearing the strikes of the mujahideen”.
Second, on the ground in the region the American will to fight is fading; they will not send troops, Iraq-style, and the depletion of other enemies is significant, too. Al-Badri is “certain that the bloodshed in Mosul, Raqqa, Sirte, Ramadi, and Hama will eventually lead to the downfall of tyrants”.
American fatigue has allowed Russian to take “control of the Syria portfolio”, al-Badri says, and the U.S. is now unable to stem the rise of Russian power.
Al-Badri makes a special attack on Saudi Arabia, as is now customary, and all clerics—whether the Wahhabi ulema or others—who oppose IS.
Al-Badri tries to rally Sunnis by mentioning the “Shi’a” (Iranian) encroachments in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, and saying they will “never accept half-solutions” or compromise. In terms of the Syrian rebellion, al-Badri says: “What have you gained from your backers other than truces with the Nusayris [Bashar al-Assad’s regime]? Turkey and the Sahwat won’t benefit you. If it wasn’t for us, the situation would be much worse.”
Al-Badri invokes IS’s famous slogan, “We are remaining (baqiya)”, and concludes that the war continues.