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THE CONFLICT IN IRAQ

Bin Laden Approves of Zarqawi Successor

July 02, 2006|From the Associated Press

CAIRO — Osama bin Laden endorsed the new leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq in an Internet posting Saturday, and warned Iraqi Shiites against collaborating with the United States in fighting Sunni insurgents.

In his fifth audio message this year and his second in two days, Bin Laden also warned nations not to send troops to Somalia, where Islamic militias have taken control of the capital and much of the south.

He urged Somalis to support the militias, who he said were building an Islamic state in the Horn of Africa.

Although no date was given for Bin Laden's message, it was probably made after June 12, when a militant website announced that Al Qaeda in Iraq had named an Egyptian as the new head of its operations in Iraq. He has been identified as Abu Ayyub Masri or Sheik Abu Hamza, also called "Al Muhajir."

He succeeded Abu Musab Zarqawi, who was killed June 7 in a U.S. airstrike.

Bin Laden's voice sounded much stronger in the 19-minute recording than in a message that was posted Friday. The authenticity of the recording could not be immediately verified.

It urged the leaders of Al Qaeda in Iraq to work with other militant groups operating there, saying they should maintain membership in an umbrella organization of Islamist militants fighting U.S. troops and the Iraqi government.

He called Shiite political leaders "traitors" and "renegades."

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