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Al-Qaida's Zawahiri Backs Taliban Leader


FILE - Al-Qaeda leader, Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, in still image taken from a video released Sept.12, 2011.
FILE - Al-Qaeda leader, Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, in still image taken from a video released Sept.12, 2011.

Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has pledged allegiance to the new head of the Taliban.

In an audio statement posted online, Zawahiri backs Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour amid in-fighting over the successor to the Taliban's deceased supreme commander, Mullah Mohammed Omar. Mansour was named chief in late July after the group confirmed its former leader's death.

The voice of Egyptian-born Zawahiri is featured in a video released Thursday. It opens with footage of former al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, whom U.S. special forces killed in 2011, pledging allegiance to Omar.

Zawahiri's voice then plays over his own photo for several minutes, during which he promises to support "jihad until every part of occupied Muslim land is free."

Intelligence sources tell VOA that U.S. officials are reviewing the video.

VOA's national security correspondent Jeff Seldin contributed to this report.

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