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Iraq Transition

Purported al-Zarqawi tape: Democracy a lie


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BAGHDAD (CNN) -- An audiotaped statement attributed to Islamic militant leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi declared Iraq's upcoming elections a "big American lie," while his followers appeared to kill an Egyptian hostage in public in video posted to an Islamic Web sites late Sunday.

The video's authenticity could not be immediately confirmed. But it marks the second time in three days that al-Zarqawi's followers have released videotape of what appeared to be an execution carried out in public.

The man, identified as an Egyptian truck driver who had been driving supplies to American troops in Ramadi, is seen being questioned in front of an Arabic banner bearing the logo of al-Zarqawi's group, which now calls itself "al Qaeda in Iraq."

The group has claimed responsibility for numerous car bombings, kidnappings and beheadings in the nation.

The scene abruptly changes to a street corner, where a hooded man is apparently shot by a man with a pistol who calls out, "Allahu Akbar" -- "God is great" -- before opening fire.

Friday, the insurgents posted video of two Iraqis being beheaded on a city sidewalk after admitting to their kidnappers that they drove truckloads of food and supplies to an American base in Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's restive al Anbar province.

The men were blindfolded, bound and beheaded by several hooded men as they lay on a sidewalk, apparently in full view of cars, trucks and pedestrians passing by.

Arabic text edited into the video said the men were killed because "they worked for the infidels." Before their deaths, both men made a statement warning other Iraqis not to work for the United States.

The Jordanian-born al-Zarqawi declared his loyalty to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden last year. In a statement posted Sunday on Islamic Web sites, he said his group has "declared a bitter war against democracy and all those who seek to enact it," and he declared all Iraqi candidates and voters enemies of Islam.

"Democracy is also based on the right to choose your religion," he said, and that is "against the rule of God."

CNN cannot confirm the authenticity of the 35-minute recording. But the Web sites on which it appeared have carried previous messages thought to be from al-Zarqawi.

The speaker called Iraq's interim government a tool used by the "Americans to promote this lie that is called democracy ... You have to be careful of the enemy's plots that involve applying democracy in your country and confront these plots, because they only want to do so to ... give the rejectionists the rule of Iraq. And after fighting the Baathists ... and the Sunnis, they will spread their insidious beliefs, and Baghdad and all the Sunni areas will become Shiite. Even now, the signs of infidelity and polytheism are on the rise."

In the statement, he declared that democracy's principles of majority rule and pluralism "allow infidelity and wrong practices to spread." And he said 4 million Iranians had entered Iraq to vote in the coming elections.

"Oh, people of Iraq, where is your honor?" he asked. "Have you accepted oppression of the crusader harlots ... and the rejectionist pigs?"

"For all these issues, we declared war against, and whoever helps promote this and all those candidates, as well as the voters, are also part of this, and are considered enemies of God," the tape said.

Flyers, signed by Zarqawi's group and urging a boycott of the election, were distributed in the northern town of Kirkuk late last week.

"Do not be part of their infidel Constitution," the flyer said. "You should know three important points: the winner won't win unless he complies with the American's conditions to be agent and infidel. The elections are useless play; most of the leaders of the parties are after personal interests ... and the third point is: the elections are the step toward dividing the people."

The flyers stressed an Islamic view.

"Be aware that only Islam grantees your rights," the flyers said. "You people do not let them mislead you. They are saying that a part of their legislation in the Constitution is Islam; do not be like the Jew, believing in a part of the Holy Book and leaving the other part."

The United States has placed $25 million bounties on al-Zarqawi and Osama bin Laden, whose recent taped messages have endorsed al-Zarqawi's acts of terrorism. (Full story)


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