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It was the second taped message attributed to Zarqawi in three days, coinciding with an escalation of bombings and killings in Iraq claimed by insurgents fighting US-led forces and Iraqis who "collaborate" with them.
In the tape the Sunni extremist, the most wanted man in Iraq, launched a bitter attack on the country's Shiite majority, which appears .ed for victory in the January 30 polls amid boycott threats by minority Sunnis.
"We have declared all-out war on this wicked course," said the voice on the 45-minute tape, whose authenticity could not be confirmed.
It warned of attacks against anyone taking part in the elections, saying that the concept of the people as "the source of power" that should be obeyed was "infidelity itself," and death was the punishment for Muslim "apostates."
The speaker also declared that jihad, or holy war, was "proceeding apace in the land of two rivers (Iraq)."
Zarqawi, a Jordanian-born Islamist extremist, has a 25 million dollar bounty on his . but has so far evaded capture despite US-led raids on his suspected hideouts in Iraq.
Zarqawi's outfit, the Al-Qaeda Group of Jihad in the Land of Two Rivers, has claimed responsibility for some of the most gruesome attacks in Iraq, including deadly bombings and be.ings of foreign hostages and Iraqis branded "apostates" for dealing with US-led forces.
In that tape Zarqawi disclosed that two top aides — Omar Hadeed and Abu Haris Mohammed Jassim al-Issawi — were killed in fighting in Fallujah.
He said "the big US lie called democracy" was un-Islamic and that several principles underpinning democracy — majority rule, freedom of belief and the separation of state and religion — flouted the tenets of Islam, whereby God, not the people, is the ultimate authority.