Al Qaeda’s Zawahiri pledges allegiance 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 and his martyred brothers 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.

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.

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