A local Jordanian Salafi group pledged allegiance to the Islamic State on Wednesday, while denouncing al-Qaida leaders as illegitimate.

The Jordan Times reported that the Sons of the Call for Tawhid and Jihad, a youth movement, criticized Salafi leader Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi – who has come out against ISIS but supports al-Qaida – and Abu Qatada, a radical cleric who was extradited from Britain last year, for refusing to recognize the Islamic caliphate of the Islamic State.

The group demanded that Maqdisi “return to righteousness.”

The influential Jordanian cleric warned earlier this month that the Islamic State’s declaration of a caliphate in Iraq and Syria would deepen already bloody infighting among jihadists.

"Will this caliphate be a sanctuary for every oppressed one and a refuge for every Muslim?" Maqdisi asked in a posting on his website. "Or will this creation take up a sword against Muslims who oppose it, and with it sweep away all the emirates that came before ... and nullify all the groups that do jihad in the cause of Allah in the different battlefields before them?"

The Islamic State, led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has urged jihadist factions worldwide to pledge their allegiance to it, in a direct challenge to regional leaders and to the central leadership of al Qaida, which has disowned it.

Last month, a Jordanian court acquitted Qatada, who was extradited from Britain last year, of charges of conspiring to commit acts of terrorism.

The Sons of the Call for Tawhid and Jihad coalition represents over 70 percent of Jordan’s 6,000-strong Jihadi Salafist movement, noted the report.

Last month, David Schenker, the director of the Program on Arab Politics at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former official dealing with the Middle East for the Pentagon, told The Jerusalem Post that Jordan is playing a dangerous game, trying to play Islamist groups against each other in an effort “to divide and conquer.”

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