New Taliban emir accepts al Qaeda’s oath of allegiance


Left: Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, from a handout released by a Taliban spokesman. Right: Ayman al Zawahiri, from his latest tape declaring allegiance to Mansour.

The Taliban’s new leader, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, has accepted the oath of allegiance (bayat) from al Qaeda emir Ayman Zawahiri, as well as the pledges to him from “Jihadi organizations spread throughout the globe.” Mansour’s statement was published just one day after al Qaeda released an audio message from Zawahiri in which he gave bayat to Mansour.

Mansour’s statement accepting Zawahiri’s pledge was released today on Voice of Jihad, the Taliban’s official website. In the statement, the Taliban emir thanked “all those respected brothers who have sympathized with us in this critical juncture of the Islamic Ummah, have sent messages of condolence about the passing away of Amir ul Mumineen [Mullah Omar] or have pledged allegiance with us as the new Amir (leader) of the Islamic Emirate and servant of the Muslims.”

Mansour places Zawahiri’s oath of fealty above all others.

“Among these respected brothers, I first and foremost accept the pledge of allegiance of the esteemed Dr. Ayman ad-Dhawahiri [al Zawahiri], the leader of international Jihadi organization (Qaedatul Jihad) and thank him for sending a message of condolence along with his pledge and pledge of all Mujahideen under him,” Mansour said.

“Similarly those Mujahideen protecting the Jihadi frontlines, Madaris (religious seminaries), teachers of universities and centers for learning, national figures and all Islamic and Jihadi personalities as well as Jihadi organizations spread throughout the globe who have sent messages of condolence or pledge allegiance with us as leader of Jihad, I reciprocally thank them and implore Allah Almighty to grant me and all our brothers success to properly serve Islam and Muslims,” he continued.

Mansour’s acceptance of Zawahiri’s oath should come as no surprise. The new Taliban emir issued a pro-al Qaeda statement in June, before Mullah Omar’s death was announced. In the statement, he described al Qaeda’s leaders as the “heroes of the current jihadist era” and bin Laden as the “leader of mujahideen.” Mansour’s statement contained parallels to al Qaeda’s messaging and he took al Qaeda’s side in its dispute with the rival Islamic State.

Mansour’s leadership team also indicates his close ties to al Qaeda. As The Long War Journal reported on July 31, Mansour appointed Siraj Haqqani, the operational leader of the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network, as one of his top two deputies. Files recovered in Osama bin Laden’s compound and other evidence show that Siraj has worked closely with al Qaeda for years. [See LWJ report, The Taliban’s new leadership is allied with al Qaeda.]

The public acceptance of Zawahiri’s pledge demonstrates that Mansour has no intention of breaking with al Qaeda.

Indeed, the statement from the new Taliban emir is a dramatic gesture. Since last year, al Qaeda has repeatedly broadcast its enduring allegiance to Mansour’s predecessor, Mullah Omar. In July 2014, al Qaeda released a video from mid-2001 of Osama bin Laden explaining his loyalty to Omar. But the Taliban’s public-facing propaganda has been far less explicit about the relationship. For instance, after al Qaeda reaffirmed its allegiance to Omar on July 20, 2014, the Taliban did not publish a statement attributed to Omar acknowledging the pledge.

Therefore, while the Taliban and al Qaeda have long been closely allied, Mansour’s official statement is a bold proclamation of the relationship between the groups.

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 3.44.01 PM

The Taliban is brandishing its alliance with al Qaeda in other ways as well.

Earlier today, Mansour’s propagandists posted an English-language translation of Zawahiri’s oath along with an embedded copy of his complete audio message. An accompanying note from the Taliban reads: “This step is evidence of the great resolve of the said organization [al Qaeda], acumen of the esteemed Dr. Ayman ad-Dhawahiri [Zawahiri] (may Allah protect him) as well as strong determination and commitment to well-being of the Muslim Ummah by the Mujahideen under his leadership.”

A screen shot from the page on the Taliban’s website that reproduced Zawahiri’s message can be seen above and to the right.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal. Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • ai521729 says:

    I have a simple question.
    Is this the first time for Taliban leader to accept publicly oath of Al-Qaida leader? How about Mullar Omar?

  • mike merlo says:

    so did Mansour also accept pledges of allegiance from Pakistan’s ISI & various Salafist’s scattered among Islamist’s?

  • popseal says:

    I can’t believe Western leaders still make a distinction between one set of sand worshipping pagans and another. Even “moderates” are on the same continuum of evil, just not so far along. From the ‘silent cheering section’ to the morons that blow themselves up, it’s the same evil breed of cat.

  • Devendra Sood says:

    The real question is whether the cockroach Zawahiri is even alive? If he is, he has found a real deep, dark hole to hide in and trying to survive. So who cares what he has to say and who he supports. He has no time for Jihad or any one else except trying to save his own ass from the DRONE which is circling above with a missile with his name on it to expedite his meeting with Allah.

  • mike merlo says:

    Zawahiri is not holed up in some deep, dark locale. Rest assured Zawahiri is protected by Pakistani Security elements, living a lavish life style in some heavily populated urban area or on its ‘outskirts,’ & readily available to those parts of the Muslim Ummah that actively & quietly support him.


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