Al-Qaeda’s North African wing has rejected the mediaeval-style caliphate declared by a militant Islamist group in Iraq and Syria, and confirmed its allegiance to al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, according a statement posted on social media.

The group calling itself the Islamic State announced last month it was creating a caliphate on lands it has captured in Syria’s civil war and during a rapid advance through swathes of Iraq.

In a direct challenge to al Qaeda, its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi assumed the title of caliph and issued a message seeking to assert authority over Muslims everywhere and rally them for jihad, or holy war. The Islamic State is an offshoot of al Qaeda, whose global leadership has disowned it.

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