Islamic State has not “forgotten” about Israel, the Islamist terror group said in an audio message distributed on social media Saturday night. The message, supposedly conveyed by IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, says that IS “will soon arrive in Israel. Palestine will not be your land or your home. It will be your burial place,” the message warned.
“The Jews,” said that message, “think we have forgotten about Palestine, and that they have diverted our attention from it. Not at all, Jews. We did not forget Palestine for even a moment, and we will never forget her. Very, very soon you will hear the sounds of the fighters of jihad,” who will, the message added, “surround you. You think that day is far away, but it is very close.”
Israel will not be able to stand against IS, it said, because it had already failed, along with the U.S., to beat the group in Iraq.
The last message said to be from al-Baghdadi was released last May, in the wake of reports that he had been killed. In that message, he said that “the agents of the Jews, and their slaves the Crusaders, their dogs who wag their tails, were unable to stand against the Islamic State. The Crusaders,” he said, referring to the U.S., “have been defeated, and the Muslims have won. The Jihadist revolution will continue until it reaches the gates of Rome.”
In the 24-minute audio, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi said airstrikes by the international coalition only increase his group’s determination and resolve. The message comes amid battlefield setbacks that IS has recently faced.
Meanwhile, a U.S.-backed coalition of rebels in Syria – including Syrian Kurdish, Arab and Christian groups – captured a major dam on the Euphrates River from the Islamic State group as part of the coalition’s march on IS-held areas in northern Syria.
The coalition, known as Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), announced earlier in the week a new offensive aimed at cutting supply lines between IS strongholds in the country’s north. The SDF said it seized the Tishrin Dam, which supplies much of northern Syria with electricity, on Saturday.
An SDF spokesman told AP earlier this week that his forces are also trying to cut the supply lines between the Islamic State’s de facto capital of Raqqa and the group’s stronghold of Manbij in northern Syria.
The SDF, dominated by the main Kurdish militia in Syria known as YPG, or People’s Protection Units, has become a main force in fighting IS.
The Islamic State group has come under pressure in Syria and Iraq, where it has declared its self-styled ‘Islamic caliphate’ on territory that the terrorist group controls. It lost the town Sinjar in Iraq last month, and areas across the border in Syria at the same time. Iraqi government troops are also advancing in the Islamic State-held city of Ramadi, the provincial capital of the sprawling Anbar province, Iraq’s Sunni heartland.
Airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition and Russia in Syria have also destroyed Syrian oil facilities and killed several IS leaders in recent weeks.
“It is unprecedented in the history of our Ummah (Islamic nation) that all the world came against it in one battle, as it is happening today. It is the battle of all the disbelievers against all the Muslims,” al-Baghdadi said.
He said the U.S.-led alliance does “not scare us… nor do they scatter our resolve because we are the victors in any event.”
Al-Baghdadi also taunted the United States for not putting boots on the ground. “They do not dare to come, because their hearts are full of fear from the mujahideen,”or holy warriors, he said.
“America and its allies dream of destroying the caliphate through their proxies and henchmen, and whenever an alliance of theirs fails or a tail is cut, they hasten to establish another, until they recently declared the Salouli (Saudi) alliance that was falsely called Islamic,” al-Baghdadi added.
If the Saudi-led alliance was truly Islamic, then it would fight the Syrian army and its Russian “masters,” as well as Shiites and Jews, al-Baghdadi said.
In mid-December, Saudi Arabia announced the new, 34-member alliance against terrorism, to be based in the kingdom’s capital, Riyadh. But Shiite powerhouse Iran is not part of the new coalition; neither are Iraq and Syria, whose forces are battling to regain ground from the Islamic State group and whose governments are allied with Tehran.
He also urged Muslims world wide to join the IS fight, saying it is their Islamic duty to rise up everywhere.
The authenticity of the audio could not be independently confirmed, but it was posted on IS-affiliated sites and their social media pages, as were past IS messages. Also, it was produced by the al-Furqan Media Foundation, IS’ media arm.
On Thursday, security officials announced that they had arrested two Israeli Arabs who had sought to join IS. The two had planned to enter Syria and join Islamic State terrorists, but changed their mind after hearing horror stories about life in IS-controlled areas. Despite that, they continued to involve themselves in anti-Israel and anti-Jewish incitement. They had also planned to carry out terror attacks in Israel, the two admitted under questioning, possibly at the Golani Junction, where many IDF soldiers catch rides to army bases in the north.
The two, Muhammad Omar Badar Hassan, 20, and Ahmed Talal Ahmed Sa’adiya, 23, are cousins, residents of Arab villages in the Nazareth area.