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Intelligence official: Tape likely from al-Zarqawi

Clues in recording indicate it is several weeks old
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
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Pentagon officials said U.S. troops almost captured al-Zarqawi.
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi

(CNN) -- Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the most wanted terrorist in Iraq, apparently has issued an audio message urging his followers to keep up the heat on U.S.-led forces in Iraq with attacks on convoys and at checkpoints.

"Dear brothers, be patient, it is only a matter of a few days and you will be the ultimate winners, either by way of martyrdom or victory," according to an 18-minute speech posted on two Islamist Web sites.

To al-Zarqawi followers, the message said, "Let your swords be full of the crusaders' blood."

"To the brigades of martyrs, I say, 'Go with the blessing of God. Attack their convoys and checkpoints. Turn their nights into days and their cold into hellfire,'" the voice said. "Today, your American enemy finds itself in an unenviable situation because of your successful and focused strikes."

The man added, "You, the mujahedeen, are the vanguards of our nation, its safety valve, insurmountable fence -- and its solid rock on which the American arrogant pride was shattered."

A U.S. intelligence official said the voice appears to be al-Zarqawi's.

"After conducting a technical analysis of the tape, we assess with high confidence the voice is that of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The tape apparently was made a few weeks ago because the speaker describes a Washington Post article published March 19 as being printed "this month."

The words were meant for "fighters in the land of the two rivers" -- a reference to Iraq -- and the speaker exhorted them to keep up the resistance that began in March 2003, when the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq began.

"God has granted you the blessing of having two years of jihad, and you have given generously. I ask you to observe God in your religion, jihad and the blood and dignity of your brothers and sisters," the speaker said.

Referring to the U.S.-led forces, the voice said, "now that two years have passed since the fall of Baghdad in the hands of the crusaders, they have gained nothing but disgrace and insults."

Much of the speech is filled with quotes from the Quran, but the speaker also addressed a message to President Bush, whom he calls "the dog of the Romans."

"We vow to God you will never reach a decision and your military forces will never feel at peace until we reach our target and as long as we have blood in our veins and our hearts are still beating," the message said in a remark directed at Bush. "We are coming to you, God willing."

The speaker contended that the "enemy" is trying to establish a dialogue with the "mujahedeen," but he called that "the trick of Satan."

"What made them announce that the door to dialogue with the resistance should be open? Your jihad and resilience."

He urged insurgents to shun weakness and complacency, and to avoid being fooled by the media. He reminded his listeners that the "enemy" violated "sisters" and "mothers" and performed acts to humiliate the people.

The speaker criticized the "voices of the scholars of the market" who only seem to condemn the mujahedeen.

"Where are they to protect the dignity of the Muslim ladies?"

The commander of the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division, speaking to CNN from Camp Liberty in Baghdad, described the message as a sign of desperation among the insurgents.

"We know that Zarqawi posts these messages on a regular basis and we know that he wants to step up the attacks and I think it's out of desperation," Maj. Gen. William Webster said.

CNN's Jamie McIntyre, Octavia Nasr and Caroline Faraj contributed to this report.

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