Recording Suggests al-Baghdadi Might Be Losing Grip on Power

A new voice recording purportedly made by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi suggests the group’s ability to control its fighters “has been severely reduced,” Col. John Dorrian, spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, said Thursday. Al-Baghdadi reportedly called for ISIS fighters to stand strong in their defense of the city of Mosul in the message, according to The New York Times. It has been almost a year since al-Baghdadi addressed his followers, and while the remarks indicated knowledge of the recent ISF and coalition efforts to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul, the name of the city was not mentioned in the 31-minute recording. The Pentagon has not verified the authenticity of the tape, Dorrian said during the Thursday briefing. But noting reports that some ISIS fighters have abandoned their posts in Mosul, Dorrian said the recording was “quite clearly an effort on the part of Daesh to communicate with its fighters,” using another term for ISIS. If the message did come from al-Baghdadi, Dorrian said, it was “the type of thing that a leader who’s losing command and control” might say. On al-Baghdadi’s whereabouts, Dorrian said, “if we knew where he is, he would be killed at once.”