Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi wrote that the letter of Allah to his followers was a message of peace, justice, and reconciliation, according to a video published Friday.
Al-Bashir, a former Iraqi Prime Minister who is considered the architect of the Islamic State’s takeover of Mosul in 2014, called on his followers to wage jihad against all “infidels,” including Jews, Christians, and Shiites, and said his organization would be willing to accept the deaths of civilians as a price for “the sake of Allah.”
The video shows Baghdadi, dressed in a traditional Muslim dress and sitting next to a white flag, reading the Quran aloud from the margins of a notebook.
The Islamic State proclaimed its “caliphate” in 2014 and proclaimed itself a “caliph,” which means ruler of all Muslims, and it has since imposed harsh punishments on all infidels, including Jews and Christians.
Baghdadi also declared that the “true” believers were those who had renounced Islam and rejected its “heresy” and “sedition” and that those who followed the Quran and the Prophet Mohammad as their leaders should be killed.
“Whoever commits any wrong act against Muslims and disbelieves in the teachings of Allah, the Messenger of Allah will forgive him and reward him, and whoever does so and does not repent will be forgiven, and he will be rewarded in the near future,” Baghdadi said in the video.
“But whoever does not kill unbelievers and do not kill the hypocrites, and does nothing to stop the oppression of the infidines, he will not be forgiven.”
Allah has prepared for you the path of life, and Allah is the One Who guides you.
So if you believe in Allah and the Last Day, then follow His orders and perform Hajj and Umrah [purge] your homes, and take the pledge of allegiance to the Caliph and his family and companions and give them alms.
“Then do not ask for ransom from them, nor ransom from anyone else, and do whatever you can to eradicate their corruption and injustice and protect their religion and people, and to establish a caliphate and rule it as a land of security, justice and peace,” he said.
“Whoever is able to do this will be a Muslim.”
The caliphate Baghdadi claimed was “the true Islamic State,” but U.S. intelligence officials have warned that he has expanded his organization into several territories.
U.S.-based Middle East analyst Michael Kugelman, who recently published a book on the Islamic Group, said Baghdadi’s words are consistent with what U.N. officials have described as the group’s broad ambitions to expand its influence in the Middle East.
“This is consistent with the group in terms of its aspirations to establish an Islamic state in the region,” Kugelsman said.
Kugelman added that Baghdadi is “not a radical thinker” but rather an extremist who seeks to use the Islamic faith to “expose and challenge” the West.
Krugelman noted that the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, an Uzbekistan-based militant group, has a history of recruiting members from around the world.
Baghdad’s video is likely to be the most dramatic yet.
Baghdada’s public comments, which were first reported by The Washington Post, have often been interpreted as a veiled warning to U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, who has been working to secure a U.A.E.-U.N.-led peace deal between the Islamic and non-Islamic sides.
The video appears to show Baghdadi telling his followers that the U.M.O. “has the intention of establishing a caliphate in the future and to wage war against the infidel occupiers.”
It was not immediately clear whether Baghdadi has sent his followers out on attacks in the U and UK.
The Islamic State, which has also claimed responsibility for an attack on London’s Westminster Bridge in March, is an al-Qaida offshoot that has sought to take over swathes of Syria and Iraq.