As ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s fate is still unclear after a U.S. led air raid that killed several top members of the group in Mosul and in al-Anbar, five jihadi groups in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Libya, and Algeria declared allegiance to ISIS on Monday in audio messages broadcast online Monday.
“Al-Bunyan” and “al-Battar” media foundations, which are part of the ISIS media organization, published five audio messages online on Monday from these groups declaring their allegiance to ISIS.
The first group to sign up was the Egyptian “Anssar Bait al-Maqdis” (the supporters of Jerusalem), the main insurgent group in Egypt and in the Sinai peninsula since the Egyptian revolution in 2011. “We declare our allegiance to caliph Ibrahim Awad al-Qurashi to obey him in good and bad circumstances alike,” said the group in its audio statement.
This group has launched many attacks on the Egyptian army, police, tourists, and Israel including the Israel gas pipeline in Sinai and in other parts of Egypt. It is believed that the group has no fewer than 1,000 members.
One of its most recent and deadliest attacks was a massive car bomb explosion at a checkpoint northwest of the Egyptian town of Arish that killed 28 soldiers, followed by a drive-by shooting several hours later at a checkpoint in Arish, that killed three. Both attacks took place last month. Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi declared a state of emergency in Sinai after the attack.
A few hours after the Egyptian announcement, four more audio statements were broadcast online. Algerian group “Jund al-Khilafa in the land of Algeria” (the soldiers of the caliphate) is a new group formed after the breakup of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb by the leader of the latter’s central region, Khaled Abu Suleiman, in September. Abu Suleiman left al-Qaeda and joined ISIS in Algeria. In the same month, the group kidnapped and beheaded a French citizen in obedience with an ISIS spokesman’s call to kill citizens of the countries conducting the air campaign against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
The three other groups are all called “al-Mujahidin” in the Arabian peninsula, Libya, and Yemen, respectively. It seems that al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Ansar al-Sharia in Yemen (an al-Qaeda formed organization) and Ansar al-Sharia in Libya, which was involved in the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in September 2012, have suffered a break up.
The five statements were similar in condemning the Arab ruling regimes and armies and despising democracy. The Saudi group has denounced the Saudi King and its policies of not fighting Israel or the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. It also said that an Islamic state will be achieved in Saudi Arabia soon.
The Libyan statement was similar. It mentioned that battalions from Tripoli, Barqa, and Fazzan have joined the caliphate.
With all these groups joining ISIS, the terror group has found a foothold in almost every major Arab country, which will boost the recruitment and perhaps operational cooperation between ISIS and these groups.
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