Bin Laden deputy `urges holy war' after election

OSAMA BIN Laden's top deputy has purportedly delivered another verdict on the Iraq election, saying holy war, not forged elections, was the only path for reform in Islamic nations.

A written statement, said to have been the transcript of an audio recording of a speech by al-Qa'ida's number two, Ayman al-Zawahri, appeared on several Islamist internet sites on Tuesday.

Zawahri reportedly says: "Reform can't be achieved under governments installed by the [foreign] occupier through rigged elections conducted under the supervision of the United Nations and protected by B-52s and Apache helicopter rockets. There is no reform except through holy war."

It was not immediately possible to authenticate the statement as the tape was inaccessible on the militant websites where it had been posted.

Islamic militants led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qa'ida's leader in Iraq, claimed responsibility for suicide bombings and attacks against polling stations in Sunday's election. (AP)

w A photograph of what Islamic militants claim is a captive US soldier may have been posed with a toy figure, an army doll maker has said. Dragon Models, based in Hong Kong, said the figure in the picture, posted on a website used by Islamic groups bears a "striking resemblance" to "Cody", an action toy based on US special forces.

The Pentagon has confirmed that no US soldiers have been reported missing in Iraq.