Al-Qaeda leader pledges allegiance to new Taliban leader

Kabul : Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of Al-Qaeda terrorist network, has pledged allegiance to the newly appointed supreme leader of the Taliban group Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada.

Al-Zawahiri, who became Al Qaeda leader after US Navy Seals killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011, in a 14 minute recording said: “As leader of the Al-Qaeda organisation for jihad, I extend my pledge of allegiance once again, the approach of Osama to invite the Muslim nation to support the Islamic Emirate.”

Al-Zawahiri is believed to be hiding in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region.

Akhundzada was appointed as the new leader of Taliban group late last month after the US drone strike in Pakistan’s Balochistan province on May 21 killed Mullah Akhtar Mansour, Asharq Al-Awsat English reported.

Taliban said the leadership of the group appointed Akhundzada as their new leader after he was unanimously voted by the members of the group.

Al-Qaeda was set up by Arab guerrillas who flocked to Afghanistan to fight Soviet occupation forces in the 1980s.

It had thrived under the Taliban’s rule before both groups were driven underground following the US invasion that followed bin Laden’s September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington.