Islamic State supporters expressed skepticism following the Oct. 27 media reports that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been killed in Syria by U.S. Special Forces, stressing the need to rely only on official ISIS outlets and defiantly declaring that even if the news is true, the terror group’s jihad will continue.

he pro-ISIS Quraysh Media outlet posted a notice urging followers not to trust any news source other than the official ISIS media outlets, while using the honorific “May Allah preserve him” when referring to al-Baghdadi, indicating that they believe he is still alive.

Their statement reads: “Arab and international media agencies have circulated ‘news’ about issues which concern the Islamic State. There have been widespread discussions confirming or rejecting this news. We emphasize that the commander of the believers [Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi]—may Allah preserve him—ordered to stick to news issued by the official organs of the State of the Caliphate and avoid anything else. The obligation to adhere to ‘official’ [ISIS] media was stressed repeatedly in Al-Naba’ and Al-Bayyan Radio.

“We remind the brothers that these matters concern the State’s leaders, not its general public. There must be confirmation. No information or statements that might help the enemy should be shared. We pray to Allah to humiliate the Crusaders and those who are in their camp.”

A prominent media operative in the pro-ISIS online community, Khayr al-Din Barbarosa, wrote: “A message to the new supporters, especially those confused about the truth of the martyrdom of the commander of the believers: Even if it is true, this is the main reason all of the jihad fighters set out for—martyrdom.

“The Messenger of Allah, may the blessing of Allah be upon him—died. So did Osama bin Laden, Abu Mus’ab [al-Zarqawi], and Abu Omar [al-Baghdadi]. The jihad will not stop when a certain person dies, even if he was the caliph himself. The important thing is that we verify the [truth of the] news before spreading it, and that we do not rely on the news of the infidels, who seek to spread false rumors in the hearts of the monotheists [ISIS followers] by any means. Verify first of all.”

A pro-ISIS Telegram channel wrote that the enemies of ISIS are wrong if they think that jihad is dependent on one man: “What the impure Crusaders do not understand with regard to the Muslims’ creed, especially that of the jihad fighters, is that jihad in its entirety is not founded on men, but on creed. The creed does not die with the death or killing of men. If indeed al-Baghdadi was killed—we pray to Allah to protect him—then the Messenger of Allah, Allah’s blessing be upon him, died, and the Companions after him, yet Islam remained and its banner is still raised, and jihad shall continue until Judgment Day. The Islamic State shall remain, it shall disturb the lives of the infidels and punish the apostates.”

These defiant messages were reiterated for the benefit of English-speaking ISIS followers as well. For example, on Oct. 27, a pro-ISIS English-language Telegram channel called “Virtual Dawa,” released a post stating that the strength of supporters does not rely on individuals but on faith in Allah alone, downplaying the importance of the Muslim leaders in contrast to the Muslim faith. The post compares the situation to the death of the prophet Muhammad, although it does not explicitly mention al-Baghdadi.

The full report is available on the MEMRI website.

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