In another sign of al Qaeda's waning influence worldwide, many Algerian members of the group's North African wing have defected and pledged their loyalty to the Sunni extremist group Islamic State, according to an Al Jazeera report.
Announcing the formation of a splinter group, named “Jound al Khilafa fi Ard al Jazayer” or “Soldiers of the Caliphate in Algeria,” Gouri Abdelmalek, a regional commander of the al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, reportedly accused his parent group of “deviating from the true path.”
“You have in the Islamic Maghreb men if you order them they will obey you,” Abdelmalek, also known as Khaled Abu Suleimane, reportedly said in a statement on Sunday, referring to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State group, which was formerly known as ISIS.
Algerian security officials have so far not commented on the statement, which was reportedly posted on many jihadist websites on Sunday.
AQIM is just one of the many Islamist extremist groups operating out of North Africa. In recent years, Libya, Tunisia and Morocco have provided a constant supply of thousands of jihadists to Syria and Iraq. The newly created "Caliphate Soldiers" is the second group to break from AQIM after Mokhtar Belmokhtar, also an Algerian Islamist, floated an organization named “al-Mua'qi'oon Biddam” or “those who sign in Blood” in December 2012.
However, security analysts claimed that the formation of a new splinter group is unlikely to have a major operational impact on AQIM’s operations in Algeria.
“The new group will try hard to make some noise, but it will be very difficult to execute big terrorist actions as Algerian security forces have knocked out most of the armed groups in Algeria," security analyst Anis Rahmani told Reuters.