The shadowy leader of the Islamic State group claimed to appear for the first time in five years in a video released by the extremist group’s propaganda arm on Monday, acknowledging defeat in the group’s last stronghold in Syria but vowing a “long battle” ahead. The man said to be Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in the video also claimed the Easter Day bombings in Sri Lanka which killed over 250 people were “part of the revenge” that awaits the West. Despite numerous claims about his death in the past few years, al-Baghdadi’s whereabouts remain a mystery.
Shamima Begum, the British schoolgirl who ran away to join Isis, has said she has accepted she will probably never return to the UK – but insisted she was “brainwashed” by the terrorist group. Speaking for the first time since the death of her third baby in March, the 19-year-old said she “really regretted everything” and asked for a second chance. Ms Begum claims she left London for Syria in 2015 because she believed “everything that I had been told, while knowing little about the truths of my religion”.
U.S.-backed fighters in Syria declared victory over Islamic State on Saturday, marking the apparent end of a years-long global campaign to break the extremist group’s hold on the region. The capture of ISIS’ last, tiny enclave in the country’s south brings its self-proclaimed caliphate to territorial defeat. On Friday, the White House said the Department of Defense had declared that the militant group no longer held any territory in Syria. At around the same time, Trump tweeted that there was “nothing to admire” about ISIS.
Airstrikes have targeted Islamic State weapons stores as the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) launched an attack against the jihadists’ enclave in Baghuz near the Iraqi border. The assault by the SDF aims to wipe out the last vestige of Isis’s self-declared “caliphate” that once spanned a third of Iraq and Syria. While the Baghuz enclave represents the last shred of populated land held by the jihadists, the group is still widely seen as a big security threat with remote territory elsewhere and the continued capacity to launch guerrilla attacks.
US President Donald Trump says a woman who left the US to become a propagandist for the Islamic State (IS) group will not be allowed to return. On Twitter, he said he had instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “not to allow Hoda Muthana back into the country”. Mr Pompeo had earlier stated that the 24-year-old was not a US citizen and would not be admitted. However, her family and her lawyer maintain that she has US citizenship
President Donald Trump said Wednesday that officials would announce next week that “100 percent” of the ISIS caliphate had been liberated. ISIS currently holds only about 1 percent of land in Iraq and Syria, the global coalition to counter ISIS announced late last year. However, the caliphate continues to hold territory in Afghanistan, Libya, the Sinai and West Africa.
After being imprisoned in military custody for three months in Iraq, a United States citizen, suspected of fighting for the Islamic State, will be permitted to meet with an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer. A federal judge made the ruling Saturday, ordering the Pentagon to allow the meeting, calling the Trump administration’s position ‘troubling.’
Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his first speech since last September and urged followers to continue fighting. The 54-minute audio released on Wednesday is entitled ‘Give Glad Tidings to the Patient’ and encourages followers to ‘persevere.’ The undated audio appears to reference recent events including the detention of a US pastor in Turkey.
US and Tajik officials announced on Monday that four tourists, including two Americans, cycling through Tajikistan were killed when a driver hit them and joined his passengers in attacking the cyclists with knives. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was ‘in response to calls to target citizens of Coalition countries.’
Two British men believed to be the last two members of an Islamic State cell nicknamed, ‘the Beatles,’ have been seized by Syrian Kurdish fighters, US officials said, Thursday. The ‘execution cell,’ beheaded more than 27 Western hostages and tortured others, officials claim. The captured members were identified as Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh.