Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), issued a rare audio message back on January 21 in which he flatly stated his group’s intention to march on Baghdad and move into “direct confrontation” with the United States.

“Our last message is to the Americans. Soon we will be in direct confrontation, and the sons of Islam have prepared for such a day,” Baghdadi said. “So watch, for we are with you, watching.”

When the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing on February 5 on al Qaida’s resurgence in Iraq, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iran and Iraq Brett McGurk presented written testimony explaining the agenda of ISIS (also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL), and discussed Baghdadi’s audio message to Americans.

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