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Al-Zawihiri Pledges Allegiance To New Taliban Chief

A 1998 file photo of Ayman al-Zawahri speaking at a news conference in Khost, Afghanistan. The reclusive al-Qaida leader says he has pledged support to the new chief of the Taliban, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor.

Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has released an audio message pledging loyalty to the new head of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, who was chosen recently to succeed Mullah Omar.

"We pledge our allegiance [to the] commander of the faithful, Mullah Mohammed Akhtar Mansoor, may God protect him," al-Zawahiri in a translation published by Al-Jazeera.

Al-Zawahiri, who took the reins of the extremist organization after Osama bin Laden was killed in a U.S. raid in 2011, is thought to be hiding in a border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Mansoor was selected to succeed Mullah Omar, who apparently died in April 2013, although that fact was only revealed last month by the Taliban.

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