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Al-Zawihiri Pledges Allegiance To New Taliban Chief

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.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.