Al-Qaeda Pledges Loyalty to New Taliban Chief

Al-Qaeda Pledges Loyalty to New Taliban ChiefAl-Qaeda Pledges Loyalty to New Taliban Chief

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri on Thursday pledged his group’s allegiance to new Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour who is facing a bitter struggle over his leadership.

“As emir of Al-Qaeda, I pledge to you our allegiance, following the path of Sheikh (Osama) bin Laden … in their allegiance to Mullah Omar,” Zawahiri said in a recording, referring to the former Al-Qaeda leader and to the longtime Taliban chief, whose death was confirmed last month, AFP reported.

Mansour, a longtime trusted deputy of Omar, is taking charge as the movement faces growing internal divisions and is threatened by the rise of the Islamic State group, which is making inroads in Afghanistan.

The recording was featured in a video that opens with images of bin Laden, who was killed by US special forces in Pakistan in 2011, pledging allegiance to Omar.

Mansour was announced as the new Taliban chief on July 31, after the movement confirmed the death of Omar, who led the insurgency for some 20 years.