Chaldean priest: Mosul focused on work and reconstruction, not al-Baghdadi’s messages

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After months of silence, IS leader spoke, calling for strengthening military action and Jihadi propaganda. For Fr Paul, his words have not had any “vast echo”. Everyone hopes to return to “normal”. For this to happen, patience, courage and faith are needed.

Mosul (AsiaNews) – The new message by “caliph” Abou Bakr al-Baghdadi, posted yesterday online by the Islamic State (IS) has not yet had “a vast echo” in the territories the group once controlled, this according to Fr Paul Thabit Mekko. The Chaldean priest in Karamles, Nineveh Plain (northern Iraq), spoke to AsiaNews about the 30-minute audio in which the Jihadi leader calls on his most loyal supporters to “to redouble efforts: preaching, media, military, security.” For now, this has not yet caused any alarm among the people of Mosul and the Plain, still engaged in the slow and painstaking work of reconstruction. After months of silence, al-Baghdadi’s last message was in late April, the self-styled caliph urges his loyalists to fight on despite the group’s latest military defeats. Titled “Do deeds!” the audio is a real call to arms, urging fighters not to give up, to help those who are in prison and their families in shelters for displaced persons (IDP). After a rapid rise in the second half of 2014 and in 2105 in Syria and Iraq, seizing half of their territories, IS ruled by committing serious crimes against humanity, and progressively lost ground. At present, it controls a small area on the border between the two countries; however, their ideology remains alive and military defeat has not eliminated the threat the group represents. Al-Baghdadi is wanted man with US$ 25 million bounty. On several occasions he was given for dead or wounded. “Do your utmost to rescue your brothers and sisters and break down the walls that imprison them,” says al-Baghdadi in an audio tape on the Search International Terrorist Entities (SITE) Intelligence Group. Experts deem the audio credible. “How can a Muslim continue to live while Muslim women languish in dispersion camps and in a humiliating imprisonment” in Iraq, Syria and “the four corners of the world”. “Baghdadi’s speech is heavy on religious content and comments on the second ‘Battle of Attrition’,” said Rita Katz, referring to 152 attacks IS claimed in 10 provinces between 2 and 11 August, indicating that it was recorded recently. However, for Fr Paul, the message did not find a wide echo in the media and among Iraqis at least so far. “This morning I was at the Mosul general market and the situation was very normal. The city still bears the marks of destruction, especially in the western part, but people want to rebuild and resume activities,” said the clergyman. “Life here,” he went on to say, “is normal even if there are attacks from time to time and the presence of sleeper cells or lone wolves cannot be excluded”. IS as an “organised movement”. For now, it seems a past thing even though “sometimes these groups seek to make their presence felt”. Even in the Nineveh Plain, where tensions are high because of the presence of Shia armed groups, “there is hope of returning to normal” and that security will be entrusted “to Iraq’s official police”. In Karamles, Christians have resumed “normal activities, holding celebrations at shrines and encouraging refugees to return”. Still, “Even though the process is slow, we need to complete reconstruction and encourage job creation. We need a lot of patience, courage and faith.”,-not-al-Baghdadis-messages-48027.html