ISIS Releases Recording Billed as Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi
This image made from video posted on a militant website Saturday, July 5, 2014, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, purports to show the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, delivering a sermon at a mosque in Iraq.Militant video via AP file
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ISIS released an audio recording Thursday that it billed as a message from leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, rumored to be dead since the summer.
NBC News security analysts Flashpoint said the voice in the propaganda message appears to be the terror boss but they could not pinpoint when it was made.
The recording, which was released by the official ISIS media wing, makes reference to North Korea "threatening America and Japan with nuclear power," but it wasn't clear if that was based on the most recent round of saber-rattling, Flashpoint said. There's another reference to an international summit in Kazakhstan, but that took place in June.
In mid-June, Russia's Foreign Ministry said it was "highly likely" al-Baghdadi had been killed in an air strike south of Raqqa, Syria, and weeks later the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said his death was confirmed. U.S. officials, however, said they believed al-Baghdadi was still alive.
Al-Baghdadi was last heard from in November 2016, before the Islamic State lost Mosul, Iraq. ISIS has lost more than half of the territory it once controlled in Iraq and Syria.
Tracy Connor is a senior writer for NBC News. She started this role in December, 2012. Connor is responsible for reporting and writing breaking news, features and enterprise stories for NBCNews.com. Connor joined NBC News from the New York Daily News, where she was a senior writer covering a broad range of news and supervising the health and immigration beats. Prior to that she was an assistant city editor who oversaw breaking news and the courts and entertainment beats.
Earlier, Connor was a staff writer at the New York Post, United Press International and Brooklyn Paper Publications.
Connor has won numerous awards from journalism organizations including the Deadline Club and the New York Press Club.