Bin Laden annoints Zarqawi 'emir' of Al Qaida for Iraq

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Al Qaida has formally endorsed Abu Mussib Al Zarqawi as his representative.

The 'emir', Abu Mussib Al Zarqawi. AFP
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.

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 move.

"A great step on the path of unifying all the holy warriors in establishing 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 November.

"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 said.

"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.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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