Zawahiri pledges allegiance to new Taliban chief

Mullah Mansour's appointment as Taliban leader had been questioned by some senior members of the movement, leading to reports of divisions (AP Photo)

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has pledged allegiance to the new Afghan Taliban chief in an audio message posted online.

The pledge to Mullah Akhtar Mansour was issued by al-Qaeda's media arm al-Sahab and was Zawahiri's first message since September last year. Zawahiri offered his condolences.

Al-Qaeda and Zawahiri considered Mullah Omar to be the leader of the global jihadist movement. This was however contested by al-Qaeda's rival, the Islamic State (IS) militant group, which announced the establishment of a caliphate last year.

"We pledge our allegiance ... (to the) commander of the faithful, Mullah Mohammad Akhtar Mansour, may God protect him," said Ayman al-Zawahiri, believed to be hiding in a border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan that is a militant bastion.

The authenticity of the recording could not be immediately verified, but it had all the stamps of an al Qaeda video.

With Reuters and AFP

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:46 - GMT 06:46