New Zarqawi Video Posted on Web

Al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi appeared in a video posted Tuesday on the Internet, claiming the West is waging a "crusader" war against Islam.

He also said the formation of a new government in Iraq was an attempt to help the United States get out of what he called the dilemma it faces in Iraq.

U.S. intelligence officials said after an initial examination they were confident the person in the video was al-Zarqawi, but a technical analysis of the audio portion would continue to try to match it to previously confirmed al-Zarqawi recordings.

A senior counterterrorism official called the message "more of the same jihadist bravado" heard in previous recordings, adding that it appeared that al-Zarqawi was trying to demonstrate both physically and vocally that he was a force to be reckoned with.

The official said that of note was the fact that al-Zarqawi no longer believed he had to hide his face in video recordings.

According to SITE Institute, a U.S.-based group that tracks terror organizations, the video was posted by The Mujahideen Shura Council in Iraq. The same jihadist group earlier in the month showed images of a body being dragged from a burning U.S. military helicopter and claimed to have shot it down.

The video, entitled "A Message to the People," shows al-Zarqawi speaking and instructing mujahadeen, SITE said in a press release about the video.

In the video, al-Zarqawi, who wears a beard and mustache, sat dressed in black, with ammunition cases hung from his neck and an automatic rifle propped against the wall to his right.

He wore a black scarf wrapped on his head and around his neck, while the flag of his group, Al Qaeda in Iraq, was superimposed on the screen. In another scene, he was shown sitting on the floor with three other men, all wearing black masks.

The video came just two days after a highly publicized call to arms by Al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden — on an audiotape played on Arab television — that encouraged Muslims to support his group in its war with the West.

It also came a day after a triple bombing at a resort in Egypt that killed at least 24 people, including 21 Egyptians and three foreigners.

Al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian, has claimed responsibility for some of the most high-profile suicide bombings in Iraq, and also for a score of other attacks including hotel bombings last November in Jordan.

But in recent months, al-Zarqawi had sharply lowered his profile, halting his group's Internet claims and joining a bloc of other radical groups. Some other radical leaders had said he had been shunted aside and told to lower his profile.

In January, al-Zarqawi's group said in a Web statement that it had joined five other Iraqi insurgent groups to form the Mujahedeen Shura Council, or Consultative Council of Holy Warriors. Since then, al-Zarqawi's group had stopped issuing its own statements, a sharp contrast to its previous frequent postings, and al-Zarqawi has not issued a Web audiotape since January.

In the video posted Tuesday, the logo of the Shura Council appeared on the screen as al-Zarqawi spoke, even as the flag of his specific group, Al Qaeda in Iraq, appeared in one corner.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.