CAIRO (Reuters) – A newly identified spokesman for Islamic State urged sympathizers around the world to carry out a fresh wave of attacks, singling out Turkish diplomatic, military and financial interests as the Islamists’ preferred targets.
Abi al-Hassan al-Muhajer, whose role as the group’s mouthpiece was disclosed for the first time on Monday, also told Islamic State fighters to stand their ground in the town of Tal Afar, where they are threatened by Iraqi forces bearing down on the city of Mosul, the group’s last major Iraqi stronghold.
In a defiant online message, Muhajer described Islamic State’s military losses this year as setbacks and said an array of forces in Iraq and Syria had failed to defeat the jihadists.
He said Islamic State supporters would target “the secular, apostate Turkish government in every security, military, economic and media establishment, including every embassy and consulate, that represents it in all countries of the world.”
“Destroy their vehicles, raid them … in their shelters so they can taste some of your misery and do not talk yourselves into fleeing,” Muhajer said in an audio recording posted online.
He called on supporters of Islamic State to “redouble your efforts and step up your operations” around the world.
It was not immediately possible to verify the authenticity of the recording.
Islamic State identified Muhajer as its new media spokesman in a recording posted on Al Furqan, a media outlet linked to the group. It gave little information about Muhajer, an obscure figure not widely known in the media or to experts.
The United States confirmed in September that Islamic State’s previous spokesman, Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, had been killed in a U.S. air strike on Aug. 30 in Syria.
Turkey appeared to have been chosen as a target because it has backed rebels in Syria against Islamic State, threatening to drive IS fighters from the town of al-Bab and backing rebels who crossed into Syria and took the border town of Jarablus from the jihadists. Most recently, Turkish warplanes destroyed 12 Islamic State targets on Saturday.
(Reporting by Ali Abdelaty and Asma Alsharif; Writing by Lin Noueihed; Editing by Giles Elgood)