Egyptian Militants Pledge Loyalty to IS

Egyptian Militants Pledge Loyalty to ISEgyptian Militants Pledge Loyalty to IS

Egypt’s most active militant group, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, has sworn allegiance to IS, the al Qaeda offshoot which has seized territory in Syria and Iraq, according to an audio clip posted on its Twitter account.

If genuine, the declaration of allegiance would be a boost for IS, showing its widening influence in the region alongside its territorial advances in Iraq and Syria.

In the clip, a man identifies himself only as part of the group’s “information department,” Reuters reported. He says the militants had pledged loyalty to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, head of the IS group.

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

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

Egyptian President Abdelfattah al-Sisi has said Egypt faces an “existential threat” from Sinai-based militants who have killed hundreds of police and soldiers since the army ousted president Mohamed Mursi last year.

Last month, at least 33 security personnel were killed in two successive attacks, prompting Egypt to declare a three-month state of emergency in parts of northern Sinai.