An Arabic television network has aired an audio tape of a man identified as Osama bin Laden who endorses Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as his deputy in Iraq. The voice also calls for a boycott of upcoming Iraqi elections.
The al-Jazeera network aired the tape today (Monday), about the time outgoing U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell was urging Iraq's Sunni Muslims to participate in the January 30 polls.
The al-Jazeera tape has not been authenticated.
Mr. Powell said the United States was working toward achieving successful legislative elections.
Earlier today, a leading Sunni group announced it is withdrawing from the elections because of widespread security concerns.
Meanwhile, police in Baghdad say at least 13 people were killed in a suicide car-bombing aimed at the head of a Shi'ite political organization. Shi'ite leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim escaped injury.
Separately in Baghdad, a U.S. soldier was killed and four others were wounded in a roadside bomb blast.