Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri has pledged his group’s allegiance to the new Taliban chief on Thursday.
“We pledge our allegiance [to the] commander of the faithful, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, may Allah protect him,” Zawahiri said in an audio message released by the group’s media wing Al-Sahab. It was Al-Qaeda leader’s first message since September last year. Taliban representative Zabihullah Mujahid acknowledged the news of Zawahiri’s pledge of loyalty, but said that, “We will react about it later. We don’t want to comment on it now.”
The newly appointed Taliban leader Mullah Mansoor is facing a bitter struggle over his leadership after the announcement of Mullah Mohammad Omar’s death last month. Mansoor is taking charge as the group faces growing internal divisions and is threatened by the rise of the Islamic State (IS), which is making inroads in Afghanistan.
Splits have emerged within the group following the appointment of Mansoor and some top leaders, including former chief’s son and brother, refusing to pledge loyalty to the new chief. Sayed Tayyeb Agha, head of the Taliban’s political office, has resigned days after the power struggle among the jihadists.
Mullah Mansoor is a longtime trusted deputy of the Jihadi group and is one of the founders of the movement. He is considered as a moderate, pro-peace, pro-talks leader. He was announced as the new Taliban chief on July 31, after the movement confirmed the death of Omar, who led the Islamist insurgency for more than two decades.
Last month, the reconciliation process was suspended ahead of the second round of peace talks, which was due to be hosted by Pakistani authorities, after the disclosure of Taliban chief Mullah Omar’s death, which had been kept secret for two years. IMAGE/huffingtonpost