The Free Sunnis of Baalbek Brigade which has been claiming responsibility for various bombing in Lebanon has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham( ISIS ) chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, describing him as “the caliph of the Muslims.”
This comes a day after ISIS or ISIL group declared an “Islamic caliphate” led by Baghdadi.
“With utmost honor and pride, we announce our allegiance to the jihadist Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as a caliph for Muslims,” the little know militant group which is also known as Ahrar al-Sunna announced on its Twitter account on Monday.
“We also announce our full support for what the [ISIS] is doing for Islam.” the statement added
The brigade added that it is “the duty of all Muslims to work towards finding a caliph who can set up rule by sharia law.”
The Free Sunnis of Baalbek Brigade is a Lebanon based Salafist Islamist group which views Hezbollah as representative of Shi’ite supremacy that must be violently opposed. The group made its first appearance during November 2013 when it vowed to retaliate against Hezbollah following clashes between Hezbollah and Sunni supporters over Shi’ite group’s control of road-blocks in Baalbek’s outskirts. Subsequently, the group posted on its Twitter account, a call to “free Lebanon of Hezbollah” as well as praising the perpetrators of the Iranian embassy bombing in Beirut on 19 November 2013. The group also claimed responsibility for the assassination of Hassan al-Laqis, a senior Hezbollah operative, on 4 December 2013. The group referred to the killing as revenge for abuses of Sunnis in Baalbek. The group has no known associations with Lebanese or Syrian groups.
Hezbollah dismisses the actual existence of the Free Sunnis of Baalbek Brigade as a Salafist extremist group, by alleging that the group is a front organisation for Israel in Lebanon.
ISIS announced Sunday the establishment of a “caliphate,” or Islamist state and in an audio recording that was distributed online, ISIS declared its chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as “the caliph” and “leader for Muslims everywhere.”
ISIS said it would impose the caliphate on areas already conquered in Syria and Iraq.
“The Shura (council) of the Islamic State met and discussed this issue (of the caliphate)… The Islamic State decided to establish an Islamic caliphate and to designate a caliph for the state of the Muslims,” said ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani.
“The jihadist cleric Baghdadi was designated the caliph of the Muslims,” said Adnani, adding that the caliphate will extend “from Aleppo (in northern Syria) to Diyala” in Iraq.
Baghdadi “has accepted this allegiance, and has thus become the leader for Muslims everywhere.” Adnani assured everyone
Shortens name to IS
“The words ‘Iraq’ and ‘the Levant (or Sham/ Syria )’ have been removed from the name of the Islamic State (IS) in official papers and documents,” Adnani said, describing the caliphate as “the dream in all the Muslims’ hearts” and “the hope of all jihadists.”
Adnani demanded that “all Muslims pledge allegiance to the caliph, ” but so far very few countries are taking caliphate issue seriously , although they are very concerned about its strength in Iraq