The Islamic State has issued what appears to be the first recording in nearly a year of its reclusive leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in a move that seems equally designed to silence rumors of his death and to rally his pummeled troops.
The 46-minute audio recording would be the first time since last November that supporters of the jihadist group have heard the voice of their self-proclaimed caliph.
When his last message was released, Iraqi troops were descending on the city of Mosul, the largest metropolis controlled by the group, also known as ISIS.
In this recording, he addresses his foot soldiers after the loss of Mosul, a city of one million, as well as the subsequent loss of the smaller town of Tal Afar and part of Raqqa, the group’s capital in Syria.
Mr. Baghdadi, 46, focuses on the threat that the West continues to face from the Islamic State, including an indirect reference to recent attacks on the Underground in London and in the heart of Barcelona.
“America, Europe and Russia are living in a state of terror,” he said, according to a translation provided by the SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks Islamic State propaganda.
The recording, which was blasted out to Islamic State supporters in chat rooms on the messaging app Telegram, begins with the voice of a narrator who introduces Baghdadi and adds, “May Allah protect him.”
That phrase is used to refer to people who are still living and is intended to signal that Mr. Baghdadi is not dead, contrary to previous reports. The audio also mentions current events, including the growing nuclear threat from North Korea.
There were many news media reports of Mr. Baghdadi’s death over the summer after the Russian military said it had struck a meeting of Islamic State leaders in May near Raqqa, Syria, possibly killing him.
A British-based monitoring organization, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said in July that senior Islamic State commanders had confirmed that Mr. Baghdadi had been killed in Deir al-Zour Province.
But the American defense secretary, Jim Mattis, said that month that he believed Mr. Baghdadi was still alive.
Pentagon officials have said that Mr. Baghdadi did not appear to be directing the Islamic State’s forces on a day-to-day basis, but his death would be a blow to the organization.
The Islamic State has been steadily losing territory recently in Iraq and Syria.
The capital of the group’s self-declared caliphate, Raqqa, has been under siege by United States-backed forces for several months, and the group was reported to have moved its leaders and administration out of the city.
In July, the group lost Mosul, Iraq, which had been the largest city it controlled.