Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, pledged in an online audio message, allegiance to the new head of the Afghan Taliban, who was appointed last month following the death of his predecessor in a US drone strike.
The veteran Islamist militant became al Qaeda’s leader after Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan, 2011, and he is believed to be hiding in the border region of Pakistan-Afghanistan, having been based there since the late 1990s.
“As leader of the al Qaeda organization 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-Zawahri stated.
Haibatullah Akhundzada, Islamic legal scholar who was one of former leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour’s deputies, was appointed a few days after Mansour was killed by a U.S. drone attack in a remote border area just inside Pakistan.
Since al-Zawahri, an Egyptian doctor-turned-militant, succeeded bin Laden, al Qaeda has lost power to ISIS in global jihadist movement leadership. Noting that there are numbers of Afghan insurgent commanders who have joined ISIS after breaking away from Taliban.