Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, one of Egypt’s most powerful militant groups, publicly pledged loyalty to ISIS in an audio speech posted late Sunday on Twitter. In the audio posted to the group’s official Twitter account, an unknown person speaking on behalf of Ansar Beit al-Maqdis declares the group has joined ISIS, “whose emergence resembles a new dawn raising the banner of monotheism.” The audio also states Ansar Beit al-Maqdis members vow to “obey” ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi because he is “chosen by God.” Last week, the group denied from the same official Twitter account that it had joined ISIS, but the recent audio statements showed a marked change. “We have no alternative but to declare our pledge of allegiance to the caliph and we call on all Muslims to pledge allegiance to him.” Over the weekend, there were reports that al-Baghdadi was wounded and possibly even killed, but the U.S. has not confirmed either of these. Ansar Beit al-Maqdis is one of the major militant groups leading attacks against mostly Egyptian soldiers and police, including one in October that killed 31 troops at an army checkpoint. The group has its own international clout, having recruited members from dozens of countries, including in North Africa and the Persian Gulf.
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