Published May 27, 2005
| Associated Press
CAIRO, Egypt – Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (search) is in good health and is running his terror organization, according to an Internet posting Friday purportedly from the group's spokesman — the latest claim about the fate of Iraq's most-wanted militant.
There was no way to verify the statement's authenticity, but it follows several recent postings — including one from the same spokesman — that al-Zarqawi was wounded. Conflicting reports on whether he had died or been taken abroad for treatment led to speculation about confusion or jockeying for position among underlings.
Friday's posting did not address the question of whether al-Zarqawi was ever wounded.
"Our sheik is in a good health and he is running the holy war work himself and following the details of the work until the hour this statement has been written," said the posting by Abu Maysara al-Iraqi, considered to be the spokesman for Al Qaeda in Iraq (search).
"There have been a lot of arguments in the media about naming a deputy to sheik Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Let everyone know that what's being broadcast by the enemies of God through their media is only designed to promote malicious plans," the statement said.
"The Al Qaeda in Iraq (search) organization ... is united," it added. "During the last two years, the sheik has had a coherent leadership, by God's grace, and he has a deputy and counselors. ... There's no need for the confusion."
Speculation over the group's leadership soared after Tuesday's Internet "announcement" in Abu Maysara al-Iraqi's name that al-Zarqawi had been wounded and that Muslims should pray for him.
A Web statement Thursday said a Saudi militant, known as Abu Hafs al-Gerni (search), had been made the group's interim leader — or "deputy of the holy warriors" — until al-Zarqawi recovers from his wounds. That statement was signed in the name of Abu Doujanah al-Tunisi of Al Qaeda in Iraq's media committee — an unfamiliar name from past statements.
Shortly thereafter, a rival statement appeared on the same site, again in Abu Maysara al-Iraqi's name, to reject suggestions that a replacement had been named for al-Zarqawi.
None of the claims could be authenticated.
U.S. officials couldn't confirm reports of Zarqawi's death or wounding. Senior Iraqi officials have said they believe he was been wounded but do not know how severely.