DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A man purported to be the reclusive leader of the militant Islamic State has made what would be his first public appearance at the grand mosque in Iraq's second city, Mosul, according to a video recording posted on the Internet on Saturday.
The 21-minute video came after reports on social media that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi would make his first public appearance since his Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) changed its name to the Islamic State and declared him caliph — a title held by successors of the Prophet Mohammad.
If confirmed it would be the first public appearance by the head of the militant group that led a military offensive last month that saw swathes of northern Iraq fall to ISIL and other Sunni armed factions. The campaign started on June 10 in Mosul, the north's biggest city, which was quickly taken by ISIL.
The recording showed a bearded man in a black robe and black turban slowly ascending the pulpit below the black flag of the Islamic State. The recording called him "Caliph Ibrahim, emir of the faithful in the Islamic State, may God protect him."
It was not immediately possible to confirm the identity of the man in the recording as only one grainy picture of the reclusive Baghdadi has previously been published.
It was also not possible to immediately confirm the authenticity of the recording or the date when it was made.
"God has granted your brothers, the Mujahideen, victory and a conquest after years of patience and holy struggle, and enabled them to achieve their objective," Baghdadi said, according to the recording.
"And they have rushed to declare an Islamic caliphate and to appoint an imam (leader), which is a duty for Muslims, a duty that had been lost for centuries that had been absent from reality, making many Muslims ignorant of it," he added.
"I have been afflicted by this great affair, I have been afflicted by this trust, a heavy trust," the man said. "I was appointed in charge of you, though I am not the best or better than you, so if you see me in the right, then help me, and if you see me in the wrong, advise me and put me right."
In an audio tape, Baghdadi last week called on Muslims worldwide to take up arms and flock to the "caliphate" it has declared on captured Syrian and Iraqi soil.
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