Egypt’s deadliest militant group, ‘Ansar Beit al-Maqdis’, pledged its allegiance to the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant terrorist group, in a recording posted on its Twitter account on Monday.
“We announce our pledge of allegiance to the caliph Ibrahim Ibn Awad… to listen and obey,” the audio recording said, referring to ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
The group has waged a campaign of violence from its Sinai Peninsula stronghold that has killed scores of policemen and soldiers since the Egyptian army ousted Islamist president Mohammadd Mursi in July last year.
It had previously expressed support for ISIL, but stopped short of pledging its allegiance before Monday, even denying it last week.
Interior ministry spokesman Hany Abdel Latif told AFP the announcement would make no difference to Egypt’s fight against the militants. “They are just different names for the same terrorists,” he said.
Ansar Beit al-Maqdis was formed during the security vacuum that followed the overthrow of longtime president Hosni Mubarak in the Arab Spring revolution of 2011. It has said it wants to implement Islamic law, and avenge Islamists killed in the crackdown that followed Mursi’s overthrow.