Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri pledges allegiance to new Taliban leader

CAIRO: Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, in an online audio message, pledged allegiance to the new head of the Afghan Taliban, who was appointed last month after his predecessor was killed in a US drone strike in Balochistan, Pakistan.

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri pledges allegiance to new Taliban leader

The veteran Islamist militant became al-Qaeda’s leader after U.S. Navy Seals killed Osama bin Laden in Abbotabad, Pakistan in 2011, and he is thought to be hiding in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region, having been based there since the late 1990s.

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“As leader of the al Qaeda organization for jihad, I extend my pledge of allegiance once again, the approach of Osama bin Ladin to invite the Muslim nation to support the Islamic Emirate,” Ayman al-Zawahrisaid in a 14 minute audio recording.

During its years in power, from 1996 to 2001, the Taliban established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, and it has been fighting an insurgency since to regain control of the country.

The authenticity of the recording could not be immediately verified.

Haibatullah Akhundzada, Islamic legal scholar who was one of former leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour‘s deputies, was appointed a few days after Mansour was killed by a U.S. drone attack in a remote border area just inside Pakistan.

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