A voice purporting to be that of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of al-Qaida in Iraq, surfaced on a Web site Monday, denying reports he was seriously injured and saying that he suffered only “minor” wounds.
“I think news has reached your ears through the media that I was seriously wounded," the voice says in what's described as a report to Osama bin Laden. "I would like to assure you and assure Muslims that these are baseless rumors and that my wounds are minor.
“I am now with the help of God enjoying good health among my brothers and my people in Iraq,” the voice added. The authenticity of the voice could not be immediately verified.
Last week, reports indicated that al-Zarqawi had suffered a gunshot wound to his lung and had fled to a neighboring country for medical treatment.
'Waiting for your directions'
Zarqawi’s group is one of the leaders of a bloody insurgency against U.S. forces and the Iraqi government.
“Our beloved prince, the enemy is proceeding as envisioned and we are close to tightening the noose around his neck and if the plan goes ahead as prepared, its results will please all Muslims and harm every infidel and hypocrite,” the tape said.
“I believe the plan we prepared has either reached you or is on its way to you,” the speaker said without elaborating. “The enemy today is living out his worst days in Iraq.”
“We are waiting for your directions and orders,” the voice added.
Claims battle victory
The voice also claimed that al-Qaida in Iraq had won this month's bloody battle against U.S. troops at the town of Qaim near the Syrian border.
"Al-Qaim was the battlefield where the youth of Mohammed have proved their valiance after 10 days of fighting. It was one of the greatest battles of Islam," the speaker said.
The U.S. military said it killed 125 militants during its weeklong offensive against al-Zarqawi's fighters. Nine U.S. Marines were killed and 40 injured during the operation, one of the largest American campaigns since militants were driven from Fallujah six months ago. The number of civilian casualties was not immediately known.