DUBAI: Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri has pledged allegiance to new Afghan Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhundzada, a low-profile religious figure whose predecessor was killed in a US drone strike.
The pledge comes as Al-Qaeda is facing rivalry from the Islamic State group, which has also made inroads into Afghanistan where the Taliban have been waging a guerrilla war since they were ousted from power in 2001.
Zawahari’s remarks came in a 14-minute audio and video message posted online, the US-based monitor SITE Intelligence Group said on Saturday.
“We pledge allegiance to you on jihad to liberate every inch of the lands of the Muslims that are invaded and stolen, from Kashgar to al-Andalus, from the Caucasus to Somalia and Central Africa, from Kashmir to Jerusalem, from the Philippines to Kabul, and from Bukhara and Samarkand,” it quoted Zawahiri as saying.
He described the new Taliban chief as the “emir of believers” and the “legitimate” head of a Muslim caliphate