ISLAMABAD, August 13, 2015 (UPI) — The leader of al-Qaida pledged his loyalty to the new chief of the Afghan Taliban in an audio recording posted online Thursday.
“We pledge our allegiance (to the) commander of the faithful, Mullah Mohammed Akhtar Mansoor, may God protect him. As leader of the al-Qaeda organization for jihad, I offer our pledge of allegiance, renewing the path of Sheikh Osama and the devoted martyrs in their pledge to the commander of the faithful, the holy warrior Mullah Omar,” said Ayman al-Zawahiri of Mansoor, who rose to the top of the Taliban chain of command in July when it was revealed Taliban founder and leader Mullah Mohammad Omar has been dead for two years.
There have been divisions reported in the Taliban hierarchy since the announced death of Omar, and Zawahiri’s vote of confidence in Mansoor strengthens Mansoor’s authority. Omar’s family did not endorse the promotion, and Omar’s son, Mullah Yaqoub, is regarded as a rival to Mansoor.
The support of al-Qaida could be seen as a sign by the Afghan government that slow-moving peace talks, brokered by Pakistan, could be abandoned by the Taliban in favor of another round of violence. It remains unclear if the audio transcription is authentic.