An audio recording published by Sinai-based jihadist group Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis has said the group pledges allegiance to Islamic State (IS).
The recording, published early Monday on the group’s Twitter account (@4Ansar_B_Almqds) and on jihadist websites such as Al-Battar, is read for 9 minutes and 26 seconds by an unidentified speaker.
Media reported the same news last week only for it to be denied by the group.
However, Monday’s audio recording says the group pledges allegiance to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, head of Islamic State, for “obedience in hardship and comfort.”
The statement, announced by the group’s media department, also called on Egyptians to fight against their “unjust” government.
“This shameful peacefulness will not do you good, nor this blasphemous democracy,” it said.
Meanwhile, Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis published a separate statement on Sunday, also on its Twitter account, condemning the army’s operations to form a buffer zone on the Rafah-Gaza border, which has seen over 1,100 families evacuated from the area.
The group said it shall “take revenge for the people” soon.
The Egyptian government has announced offering prompt help and compensation for the displaced residents.
The Egyptian army has been facing a decade-long jihadist militant insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula, with militant attacks increasing over the past year and expanding into Cairo and the Nile Delta, killing hundreds of army and police personnel. Civilians have also been caught up in the violence.
The army has also announced killing and arresting hundreds of militants.
There has been mounting speculation that militant groups in Sinai are establishing relations with IS, which has taken over swathes of Iraq and Syria, drawing US-led airstrikes against it.
Egypt has joined a coalition with nine other Arab states to combat IS. However, Egyptian officials have thus far said that the country’s military will not take part in any combat abroad against IS and shall confront it using other means, including cutting funding sources and offering an alternative religious discourse.
A three-month state of emergency and daily curfew has been imposed in parts of North Sinai since 24 October following a major deadly attack on security forces.
.Ahram Online could not independently confirm the veracity of the Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis Twitter account