ISIS Ready to Turn on Saudi Royal Family
Islamic State’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, released his first statement in nearly a year, the long silence fueled speculation that he had been wounded or killed, urged his followers to “unleash the fire of their anger” on Turkey, which has been fighting Islamic State forces in Syria and has closed off key supply routes of weapons and reinforcements. He also instructed supporters to launch “attack after attack” in Saudi Arabia and target security forces and the ruling Al Saud family for “siding with the infidel nations in their war against Islam.”
In his latest message, Baghdadi struck an almost apocalyptic tone in his appeal to fighters not to flee Mosul. “This war is yours,” he said. “Turn the dark night of the infidels into day, destroy their homes and make rivers of their blood.”
Perhaps most importantly, Baghdadi addressed “soldiers of the Islamic State” far beyond Iraq and Syria. He specifically named Algeria, Bangladesh, Egypt, Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Yemen, the Philippines, Somalia and West Africa. These are countries and regions where Islamic State has established “provinces” and affiliates – militant groups that include tens thousands of fighters who have pledged allegiance to Baghdadi and his organization.
He referred to them as the “pillars of the caliphate,” a hint that these affiliates will now be more essential for Islamic State’s survival. He also urged sympathizers from the West who are unable to reach Iraq and Syria to travel instead to Libya, where the group has gained a foothold, especially in the coastal city of Sirte. But even there, Islamic State militants have suffered significant losses over the past six months.