WASHINGTON,(Reuters) – An audio recording in which Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al Qaeda”s leader in Iraq, denies reportsthat he was seriously wounded is authentic, a U.S. intelligence official said on Tuesday.
"We believe the tape is authentic," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The official declined to discuss other details about the recording.
In the audio tape, which surfaced on Monday, Zarqawi told Osama bin Laden that he had suffered only "minor" wounds and was "enjoying good health among my brothers and my people in Iraq.
"I think news has reached your ears through the media that I was seriously wounded … I would like to assure you and assure Muslims that these are baseless rumors," Zarqawi said in the recording.
The tape, which the speaker dated May 27, followed Internet postings by the al Qaeda Organisation for Holy War in Iraq saying Zarqawi had been wounded but was in good health and back leading operations in Iraq.
Zarqawi, whom bin Laden has declared his deputy in Iraq, is one of the leaders of a bloody insurgency against U.S. forces and the Iraqi government.