The secretive leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has made his first public appearance since the militant group began conquering swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria.
The man believed to be Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi lead a prayer Friday in the captured city Mosul. The video, which was released by ISIS's media arm Saturday, squashes rumors that the group's leader was killed by an air strike. (Via YouTube / Souhman Azil)
Captions refer to the man as "Caliph Ibrahim". The ISIS leader has reportedly used that name since the group appointed him the head of a new Islamic State last Sunday. (Via The Telegraph)
The BBC reports that in the video al-Baghdadi calls on Muslims to obey him, saying: "Appointing a leader is an obligation on Muslims, and one that has been neglected for decades." He reportedly goes on to say: "It is a burden to accept this responsibility to be in charge of you."
A CNN correspondent says the video is significant because it visually identifies the man who might be the most wanted terrorist in the world.
ARWA DAMON: "This is the first time that ISIS is, in and of itself, putting a face to a man who up until now we had only heard audio recordings from."
Under the command of al-Baghdadi, ISIS began a lightning offensive this summer that has fragmented Iraqi security forces in the country's north. Now the Sunni-led extremist group has turned south to focus on the capital Baghdad.
While ISIS has become feared for its often brutal tactics, Al Jazeera reports the group allowed more than 40 Indian nurses caught in the crossfire in the city Tikrit to return to their home country.
One nurse told the network: "They didn't do anything, they didn't disturb us and they didn't harm anyone. They didn't touch even. They talked nicely."
The move might be part of a carefully crafted ISIS social media campaign.
Saturday's video of al-Baghdadi, and others like it, all appear to be part of sophisticated and deliberate social media strategy aimed at spreading ISIS' message to potential followers in the region and around the world. (Via Vice)
A senior Iraqi security official says an initial analysis suggests the man in Saturday's video is indeed al-Baghdadi.