Video Purportedly Shows First Public Appearance of ISIS Leader in Iraq

The Associated Press reports that a man purporting to be the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has made what would be his first known public appearance today in a video promoted on social media sites tied to ISIS.

The video claims to show Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city which fell last month to the Islamist insurgents, leading prayers at the Great Mosque of al-Nuri. He wears black robes and a black turban, according to the AP, "a sign that he claims descent from the Prophet Muhammad."

CNN reports on what is seen in the video:

In the video, the man purported to be al-Baghdadi urges people to follow his call to create a "caliphate," an Islamic state, in Iraq and Syria, and wage "jihad" during Ramadan — the holy month of fasting for Muslims that began last week.

"God created us to worship him and spread his religion, and ordered us to fight his enemies for him and for religion," the man said.

The video is said to show the man claiming that Muslims are sinners if they do not seek this goal. He continues:

"I am being entrusted with this heavy burden and duty to be your imam, although I am not the best one among you.

Therefore, if you see me as righteous, you should help me and if you see me wrong, you should advise me and help me. Obey me as long as long as I obey God in ruling you. ...If I disobey God, then you are no longer obligated to obey me."

A spokesman in Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's office told CNN that "the Iraqi government has seen the video and is analyzing it."

[image via AP]