NEWS AND VIEWS THAT IMPACT LIMITED CONSTITUTIONAL GOVERNMENT
"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with
power to endanger the public liberty." - - - - John Adams
Wednesday, November 2, 2016
ISIS expands into West Africa
ISIS is now in West Africa
"I don't think they're gaining strength. What is true is that from the start, our goal has been first to contain, and we have contained them."
Barack Hussein Obama
(Long War Journal) - The Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency has officially recognized an oath of allegiance sworn on behalf of a group of jihadists operating in Mali and neighboring countries.
Abu Walid al Sahrawi first swore bay’ah (an oath of allegiance) to the so-called caliphate more than seventeen months ago, but Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s enterprise did not advertise it until yesterday. Amaq released a short statement acknowledging Sahrawi’s oath, as well as a video of him reading his pledge.
Sahrawi’s organization is commonly known as the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS).
Sahrawi previously served as the spokesman for the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO). In that role, Sahrawi was allied with Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who was originally a commander in al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Disagreements with AQIM’s leadership led Belmokhtar to establish his own force in 2012. MUJAO merged with Belmokhtar and his men in 2013 to form Al Murabitoon. But two years later, in May 2015, Sahrawi and a cadre of fighters broke away to establish a branch of the Islamic State in Mali.
Amaq’s statement reads like Sahrawi’s pledge of fealty is recent, but it is actually old news. “Katibat Murabitoon, under the leadership of Abu Walid al Sahrawi in northern Mali, pledges allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi and the Islamic State organization,” Amaq’s statement reads.
Separately, Amaq also released a video of Sahrawi reading his loyalty pledge. Sahrawi refers to Baghdadi as “Emir ul-Mu’minin” (or the “Emir of the Faithful”), a title that is usually reserved for the Caliph. A small number of fighters are shown standing and sitting behind him as he reads the announcement. These same fighters join hands at the end of the video to emphasize their own unity with the “caliphate.” (Screen shots from the video can be seen below.)
In May 2015, Sahrawi issued an audio statement in which he announced his oath to the Islamic State and Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. He claimed to do so on behalf of the entire Al Murabitoon group. Sahrawi repeats this claim in the new video.
The Islamic State has grown in West Africa by winning the loyalty of established jihadists. In 2015, for instance, Boko Haram leader Abu Bakr Shekau announced his allegiance to Baghdadi. The Islamic State’s spokesman, Abu Muhammad al Adnani, quickly accepted Shekau’s loyalty oath and Boko Haram was rebranded as the Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA). However, leadership disputes emerged earlier this year and Shekau was replaced as the head of ISWA.