Ansar al Jihad, a newly formed Islamist terror group in Egypt, has sworn allegiance to al Qaeda’s emir.
Ansar al Jihad in the Sinai Peninsula made the announcement yesterday in a statement that was signed by “Your soldiers in Ansar al Jihad in the Sinai Peninsula.” The statement was released on the Sinam al Islam jihadist web forum and has been translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.
“To our beloved emir and honorable sheikh, Abu Muhammad Ayman al Zawahiri … from your soldiers in the beloved Sinai in the Land of the Quiver [Egypt], we give you allegiance for obedience in good and bad, in difficulty and ease, and altruism,” the statement said. “So, throw us wherever you wish…. We will never quit or surrender until the last drop of our blood [is spilled] in the Cause of Allah and until Islam rules by the help of Allah the Almighty.”
Ansar al Jihad called Zawahiri their “beloved Mujahid Sheikh” and asked “Allah to preserve you with His protection and preserve the commanders of jihad everywhere….”
Ansar al Jihad announced its formation on Dec. 20, 2011. In that statement, also translated by SITE, the terror group vowed to “to fulfill the oath of the martyr of the Ummah, our Sheikh Osama bin Laden.”
Ansar al Jihad is the military arm of al Qaeda in the Sinai Peninsula, a newly formed terror group that operates in Egypt. Al Qaeda in the Sinai Peninsula has been establishing ties with the Gaza-based Salafist groups and is seeking to coordinate operations, a US intelligence official told The Long War Journal in late December.
Security in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula has deteriorated since the popular uprising last winter that resulted in former President Mubarak’s ouster. Hundreds of Islamists, many from Ayman al Zawahiri’s Egyptian Islamic Group, have been freed from prisons, and some are thought to have returned to support terror groups.
Al Qaeda in the Sinai is also thought to have been involved in a series of attacks in August near the Israeli resort town of Eliat that killed eight Israelis, as well as bombings against a natural gas pipeline between Israel and Egypt.
Many analysts predicted that al Qaeda would be weakened after the death of Osama bin Laden, as Zawahiri is perceived to be unpopular in many jihadist circles. All of al Qaeda’s affiilates, however, including al Qaeda in Iraq, Shabaab, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, have sworn allegiance to Zawahiri. Furthermore, there have been no reports of major disagreements within the jihadist leadership or the rank and file over Zawahiri’s succession to bin Laden’s role as emir.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.