ISIS releases purported video of elusive leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

The man, claiming to be the caliphate's leader, praises those who carried out Easter bombings of churches in Sri Lanka.

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By David K. Li

The Islamic State group on Monday released a video message, purportedly of its secretive leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who has not been seen for five years.

Written script in the video dates the address to earlier in April. NBC News could not verify the exact time or date of this recording or if it actually is al-Baghdadi.

In the 18-minute video published by the terror organization's al-Furqan network, a bearded man who resembles al-Baghdadi praised terrorists who carried out Easter bombings of churches in Sri Lanka.

More than 250 people were killed in the blasts.

The elusive al-Baghdadi hasn't appeared on film or video since he was recorded speaking from the Iraqi city of Mosul in 2014, though some of his more recent speeches have been released as audio recordings.

The man who could be al-Baghdadi is shown sitting, cross-legged, on the ground with an assault-style weapon propped up against a wall by his right elbow. He appeared significantly older and heavier than he looked in 2014.

Since his last appearance in tape, multiple reports have questioned whether al-Baghdadi is even alive, or was the victim of a U.S.-ordered drone strike. Other reports have him hiding out in remote regions of Syria or Iraq.

Reuters contributed.