Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Jihadist 'caliph' demands obedience from Muslims

06 July 2014, 13:44

Baghdad - Self-proclaimed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made an unprecedented appearance in the Iraqi city of Mosul, which his forces helped capture last month, and ordered Muslims to obey him, according to a video posted online.

That marks a significant change for the shadowy jihadist, whose ISIL group led a lightning offensive that overran swathes of five provinces north and west of Baghdad.

The onslaught has alarmed world leaders, displaced hundreds of thousands and piled pressure on Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki as he seeks a third term in office following April elections.

The video posted on Saturday showed a portly man clad in a long black robe and turban with a long greying beard addressing worshippers at weekly prayers at Al-Nur mosque in central Mosul.

"I am the wali [leader] who presides over you, though I am not the best of you. So if you see that I am right, assist me," said the man, purportedly Baghdadi.

"If you see that I am wrong, advise me and put me on the right track, and obey me as long as I obey God."

Pan-Islamic 'caliphate'

Text superimposed on the video identified the man as "Caliph Ibrahim", the name Baghdadi took when the group on 29 June declared a "caliphate", a pan-Islamic state last seen in Ottoman times, in which the leader is both political and religious.

The video is the first ever official appearance by Baghdadi, said Aymenn al-Tamimi, an expert on Islamist movements, though the jihadist leader may have appeared in a 2008 video under a different name.

Baghdadi is believed to have been born in the Iraqi city of Samarra in 1971, and joined the insurgency against the US military following the 2003 invasion that ousted dictator Saddam Hussein.

He spent time in a US military prison and eventually took over leadership of a group, then affiliated with al-Qaeda and known as the Islamic State of Iraq, in 2010.

At the time, the group was believed to be on the ropes, but Baghdadi led it back to prominence.

Last year, the organisation expanded into Syria, becoming a major player in the war to oust President Bashar Assad.

Baghdadi subsequently cut all ties to al-Qaeda, and his influence now rivals that of that group's global chief, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Influential Sunni Muslim scholar Yusef Al-Qaradawi, meanwhile, warned that the establishment of a caliphate by "a group known for its atrocities and radical views does not serve the Islamic project".

The title of caliph can only be "given by the entire Muslim nation", not by a single group, the cleric added.

ISIL is known for its brutality, executing and crucifying opponents, and photographs emerged on Saturday showing its militants demolishing Sunni and Shi’ite mosques and shrines in Mosul and surrounding Nineveh province.

Iraqi security forces wilted when faced with the initial ISIL-led onslaught, and while they have since performed more capably, they have struggled to retake territory from insurgents.

An assault on Saddam's hometown of Tikrit has gone on for more than a week without retaking the city, while a suicide car bomb killed 15 people on Friday near the sensitive shrine city of Samarra.

The group, formerly called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, renamed itself simply the Islamic State last week.

Iraq has reached out for international assistance and Washington has sent military advisers, but Baghdad's request for American air strikes against the militants has been rebuffed.

Tehran has also pledged assistance, and state media reported on Saturday that an Iranian pilot was killed in Iraq, without providing details on whether he died while flying sorties or fighting on the ground.

Maliki's security spokesperson, meanwhile, told AFP Saturday that ground forces commander Ali Ghaidan and federal police chief Mohsen al-Kaabi have both been sacked, the most senior officers to be dismissed since the militant offensive began.

Government formation deadlock

The crisis has polarised Iraq's Shi’ite Arab, Sunni Arab and Kurdish communities, just as their leaders look to form a new government following April elections.

Maliki, labelled at home and abroad as authoritarian and sectarian, insisted on Friday that he would not give up on his quest for a third term. He pointed to his strong electoral mandate, in which his bloc won nearly three times more seats than its closest challenger.

His remarks came after a farcical parliamentary session in which Iraq's various factions - many of which strongly oppose him staying - failed to unite and choose a speaker.

That sparked criticism from abroad and from the country's top Shi’ite religious leader.

Further highlighting Iraqi disunity, the leader of the country's autonomous Kurds has called on their lawmakers to work towards holding a referendum on independence.

The Kurds' long-held dream of statehood has been advanced by the latest crisis, with their forces having moved in to take control of disputed territory they want to incorporate over Baghdad's strong objections.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...