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Purported al-Zarqawi message slams clerics

'You made peace with tyranny,' voice says

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
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(CNN) -- An audio message purportedly from wanted terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi discovered on the Internet Wednesday ridicules Muslim scholars for not strongly condemning the U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, and urges clerics to wake up and help the resistance.

"Instead of implementing God's orders, you chose your safety and preferred your money and sons," said the voice, which could not be independently confirmed as al-Zarqawi's. "You left the mujahedeen facing the strongest power in the world." The message was posted on Islamist Web sites.

"Are not your hearts shaken by the scenes of your brothers being surrounded and hurt by your enemy?"

Al-Zarqawi's Unification and Jihad group has claimed responsibility for the killings of several Western civilians in Iraq, including the slayings of two Americans and a Briton who were kidnapped in September.

At least two audio messages that CIA officials have attributed to al-Zarqawi have appeared on Web sites in the past several months. In them, he claimed credit for attacks on coalition forces.

On a tape in April, al-Zarqawi claimed credit for the bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad on August 19, 2003, that killed 22 civilians, including the U.N.'s chief envoy to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello. (Full story)

In June, the U.S. State Department put a $25 million price on al-Zarqawi's head, saying he had "a long-standing connection to the senior leadership of al Qaeda." (Full story)

The latest audio message comes in the aftermath of the U.S.-Iraqi offensive on Falluja, a nearly two-week assault that killed many fighters opposed to U.S. and Iraqi forces.

"You have let us down in the darkest circumstances and handed us over to the enemy... You have quit supporting the mujahedeen," the voice on the recording said. "Hundreds of thousands of the nation's sons are being slaughtered at the hands of the infidels because of your silence."

The recording does not refer to any specific place or date, and it is full of poetry and quotes from the life of the Muslim prophet Mohammad. It has a heavy echo, as if taped in a big, empty space.

"You made peace with the tyranny and handed over the countries and the people to the Jews and Crusaders," the message said. "You allowed the rejects working with them to come in without uttering a word about their crimes. ... when you resort to silence on their crimes, when you refused to hold the banners of Unification and Jihad, and when you prevented youth from heading to the battlefields in order to defend the religion."

The Unification and Jihad group that once claimed allegiance to al-Zarqawi is now known as the Base of Jihad. The message, a little more than 16 minutes long, also includes portions of Jihadi chanting.

The speaker tells the scholars, known as the ulama, that "you could be 20 years old or 30 or 40, but no one of you has bothered to do anything for your religion."

The voice on the tape said he is "not addressing the bad scholars or the satellite stations scholars, these are the worst kind there is, I'm addressing the godly ones who could potentially help."

The message also challenges men whom he threatens to consider cowards unless they join the fight.

"Men have lost their virility, maybe it's time for women to pick up the fight," the voice said.

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