Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, Egypt’s Sinai-based militant group, has sworn allegiance to the Islamic State in an audio clip posted on its Twitter account, Reuters reported.
The clip, which is 9 minutes and 26 seconds in length, was uploaded to a Twitter account that calls itself the official mouthpiece of the group.
A man identifies himself only as part of the group’s “information department” said the militants had pledged loyalty to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, head of Islamic State, which is now being targeted in air strikes by a US-led coalition.
“Your unity is strength and your division is weakness… Determine your fate, unite among yourself, and support your [Islamic] State,” the recording said.
“We will continue to fight the army until the day of judgement,” it added.
The clip was then uploaded on a website used by Islamists. However, Reuters said that it was not immediately able to verify the authenticity of the statement nor contact the group directly for comment.
The Twitter account has issued other statements on the group’s behalf in recent months. It is often suspended and re-opened; one of these shut-downs occurred hours before the statement was tweeted.
The posting comes the week after the group distanced itself from a statement pledging loyalty to Baghdadi that appeared in its name online and was reported by Reuters.
Egyptian security officials said the Islamic State has established contacts with Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, though the precise nature of these communications is so far unclear.
In September, the Islamic State issued a statement urging insurgents in Sinai to push ahead with attacks on the country’s security forces.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi has said Egypt faces an “existential threat” from Sinai-based militants who have killed hundreds of police and soldiers since the ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi last year.
In October, a three-month state of emergency was declared in parts of North Sinai by the government following attacks that killed at least 31 security personnel. In addition, a five-kilometer buffer zone along the Gaza-Egypt border is being created.
Meanwhile, Interior ministry spokesman Hany Abdel Latif told AFP news agency that “the announcement would make no difference to Egypt’s fight against the self-declared jihadists”.
“They are just different names for the same terrorists,” he said.
Furthermore, Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis on Friday threatened to escalate its assaults on Egyptian military targets, saying it was engaged in a “war without end”.