Main Islamist group in Sinai pledges allegiance to Islamic State

Ansar statement: Allah allowed the banner of jihad to be raised in our countries, and granted us the honor of acting as his chosen soldiers for fighting his most bitter foes, the nation of the Jews.

November 10, 2014 18:38
3 minute read.
Ansar Bayit al-Maqdis

A poster issued by Egyptian terrorist group Ansar Bayit al-Maqdis. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Egypt's most active militant group, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, has sworn allegiance to Islamic State and emphasized its jihad against “the Jews”, according to an audio clip posted on its Twitter account on Sunday.

The Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor of MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute) exclusively provided The Jerusalem Post with a report on Monday carrying the statement of a narrator, who reads the organization’s oath of fealty to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

"After decades during which the Muslims drank from the cups of humility and disgrace, and the oppression and despotism of the tyrants – the Jews' collaborators and allies – Allah allowed the banner of jihad to be raised in our countries, and granted us the honor of acting as his chosen soldiers for fighting his most bitter foes, the nation of the Jews,” said the statement.

“Indeed, we hurt them [the Jews] greatly and inflicted grievous wounds upon them in many raids, such as the Um Al-Rashrash raid [the August 18, 2011 attack near Eilat] and others,” said the Sinai-based terror group.

“[For now,] the war between us and them continues. This situation [is also true for] many of the Muslims' countries, in the East and in the West – a ferocious crusader war on Islam and its people waged by the Jews, the Crusaders and by their collaborators, the tyrants [the Arab state rulers], the Rawafid [a derogatory term for the Shii'tes], and the apostates,” it said, according to the report.

“The greatest share of this war is waged against our brothers the mujahideen in Iraq and Syria, which are the home of the believers and Allah's best people, and in which Allah's best soldiers are located.”

The declaration of allegiance would be a boost for Islamic State, showing its widening influence in the region alongside its territorial advances in Iraq and Syria.

The posting comes the week after the group distanced itself from a statement pledging loyalty to Baghdadi that appeared in its name online.

Rafael Green, director of the Jihad and Terrorism Monitor at MEMRI, told the Post on Monday that this confirms MEMRI’s report last week, which reported the alleged pledge of loyalty.

This new pledge of allegiance makes it more official, he said.

Green speculates that the statement released last week could have been a leak or perhaps an effort to get media attention for the group.

The Sinai-based militant group posted the clip, which is 9 minutes and 26 seconds in length, on a Twitter account that calls itself the official mouthpiece of Ansar.

The clip was then carried on a website used by Islamists.

The Twitter account has issued other statements on the group's behalf in recent months. It is often suspended and re-opened; one of these shutdowns occurred hours before the statement was tweeted.

Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, a Shillman-Ginsburg Fellow at the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum who closely follows Islamist opposition groups in Syria and Iraq, told the Post that this one pledge “seems authentic.”

“Denying bay'ah [oath of allegiance] to 'the caliph of the Muslims' regarding that earlier inauthentic statement forced Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis into a corner where a pledge of allegiance would be inevitable at some point,” said Tamimi.

This entire episode has “illustrated the incoherence of trying to be pro-Islamic State while not actually pledging allegiance: in the long-run it does not work.”

Egyptian security officials have said Islamic State has established contacts with Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, though the precise nature of these to date is unclear.

In September, Islamic State issued a statement urging insurgents in Sinai to push ahead with attacks on the country's security forces.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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