Al Qaida has formally endorsed Abu Mussib Al Zarqawi as his representative.
An audiotape by a man purported to be Osama Bin Laden expressed his
support for Al Zarqawi, regarded as the most lethal insurgent in Iraq. For the first
time, Bin Laden referred to Al Zarqawi, head of the Tawhid and Jihad group, as deputy Al Qaida leader.
| The 'emir', Abu Mussib Al Zarqawi. AFP
Bin Laden termed Al Zarqawi "emir," of Al Qaida in Iraq and said Muslims
there should listen to him. The Al Qaida leader also called for a boycott of
Iraqi elections on Jan. 30.
In October 2004, Al Zarqawi declared allegiance to Bin Laden and changed
his group's name to Al Qaida in Iraq. The audiotape, broadcast on Qatar's
Al Jazeera satellite television, appeared to be a response to Al Zarqawi's
"A great step on the path of unifying all the holy warriors in
the state of righteousness and ending the state of injustice," the voice
purported to be Bin Laden said.
U.S. officials said Al Zarqawi was believed to be in northern Iraq. He
was said to have escaped Faluja during the U.S. invasion of the city in
"We have been pleased that they responded to God's and his prophet's
order for unity, and we in Al Qaida welcome their unity with us," Bin Laden
"In the balance of Islam, this constitution is infidel and therefore
everyone who participates in this election will be considered infidels," he
said. "Beware of henchmen who speak in the name of Islamic parties and
groups who urge people to participate in this blatant apostasy."
This was the second tape released by Bin Laden in December. On Dec. 16,
a Bin Laden audiotape welcomed the Al Qaida attack on the U.S. consulate in Saudi
Arabia and called for the overthrow of the kingdom.