Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has pledged allegiance to the new head of the Afghan Taliban in a move that could bolster his accession after the.
“We pledge our allegiance … (to the) commander of the faithful, Mullah Mohammed Akhtar Mansoor, may God protect him,” said an online audio message purportedly from , who is believed to be in hiding in a border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The authenticity of the recording could not be immediately verified, but it bore the hallmarks of an al-Qaida video.
Divisions within the Taliban insurgent movement have emerged since the news last month of the death of Mullah Omar. The swift announcement that Mansoor, Omar’s longtime deputy, would be the new leader has riled many senior figures, and Omar’s family said this month that it did not endorse the move.
Mansoor’s position could be shored up by the vote of confidence by al-Qaida, which has maintained ties with the Taliban for almost two decades since the tenure of its founder and late leader Osama bin Laden.
“As leader of the al-Qaida organisation for jihad, I offer our pledge of allegiance, renewing the path of Sheikh Osama and the devoted martyrs in their pledge to the commander of the faithful, the holy warrior Mullah Omar,” Zawahiri said.
Reiterating support for the Taliban is also a as al-Qaida is challenged by the group for leadership of the global jihadi movement.