Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the notorious leader of the so-called Islamic State, appears to have made a public appearance in Mosul that was captured on video and posted to the extremist group’s website.
A video promoted on social media sites tied to ISIS purports to show al-Baghdadi at Friday prayers at the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul, a move that comes weeks after ISIS seized control of Iraq’s second-largest city.
In the video, the man purported to be al-Baghdadi urges people to follow his call create a “caliphate,” an Islamic state, in Iraq and Syria.
ISIS is the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The Iraqi government has been battling the militant group, which refers to itself as the “Islamic State.”
CNN cannot independently verify the authenticity of the video, which shows dozens of people, including men who appear to be bodyguards, listening to the sermon and praying. Several automatic weapons are displayed near the man delivering the sermon.
Very little is known about al-Baghdadi, but a biography posted on jihadist websites last year said he earned a doctorate in Islamic studies from a university in Baghdad.
He formed the militant group in Salaheddin and Diyala provinces north of the Iraqi capital before joining al Qaeda in Iraq.
Al-Baghdadi served four years in Camp Bucca, which was a U.S.-run prison in southern Iraq. He was released in 2009.