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Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Photo: Al-Furqan Media/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State, has issued an audio message to followers urging them to redouble efforts to further the group's mission, per the Wall Street Journal.

  • The message appears to be an attempt at boosting spirits among the extremist organization, which lost control of territories in Iraq and Syria earlier this year.
  • WSJ writes: "Severely weakened by the five-year military campaign that forced it underground in March, the extremist group remains a potent threat after reverting to insurgency while seeking to inspire attacks globally."

What they're saying:

“O soldiers of God everywhere, know that what is coming is good … so the efforts must be redoubled and one’s best must be given in all aspects, whether in preaching or media or military or security,”
— Baghdadi

Of note: Identification of Baghdadi's voice is based off information provided by the monitoring group SITE Intelligence. Neither WSJ nor Axios have independently confirmed the voice belongs to the leader.

  • Baghdadi has avoided capture, but is believed to be hiding in desert spanning the Syria-Iraq border. There is a $25 million bounty on him.

Between the lines: News of the message comes as officials fear a conflict breakout in the region following attacks on Saudi-Arabian oil. The U.S. has accused Iran of carrying out the event.

Go deeper: Iran says President Rouhani will not meet Trump at UN General Assembly

Go deeper

Collins helps contractor before pro-Susan PAC gets donation

Sen. Susan Collins during her reelection campaign. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

A PAC backing Sen. Susan Collins in her high-stakes reelection campaign received $150,000 from an entity linked to the wife of a defense contractor whose firm Collins helped land a federal contract, new public records show.

Why it matters: The executive, Martin Kao of Honolulu, leaned heavily on his political connections to boost his business, federal prosecutors say in an ongoing criminal case against him. The donation linked to Kao was veiled until last week.

How cutting GOP corporate cash could backfire

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Companies pulling back on political donations, particularly to members of Congress who voted against certifying President Biden's election win, could inadvertently push Republicans to embrace their party's rightward fringe.

Why it matters: Scores of corporate PACs have paused, scaled back or entirely abandoned their political giving programs. While designed to distance those companies from events that coincided with this month's deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol, research suggests the moves could actually empower the far-right.

8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Kaine, Collins pitch Senate colleagues on censuring Trump

Sen. Tim Kaine speaks with Sen. Susan Collins. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP via Getty Images

Sens. Tim Kaine and Susan Collins are privately pitching their colleagues on a bipartisan resolution censuring former President Trump, three sources familiar with the discussions tell Axios.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction in his second impeachment.