In an audio tape broadcast by the Qatar-based al-Jazeera satellite television station and monitored in Beirut, bin Laden praised the "daring" attacks carried out by Zarqawi's group against U.S. forces and the interim government of Iyad Allawi in Iraq.
Bin Laden described Zarqawi as "the Mujahed Emir, dignified brother" -- the fighter prince -- and said: "It should be known that Mujahed brother Abu-Musab Zarqawi is the emir of the al-Qaida for Jihad organization in the Land of the Two Rivers (Iraq). The brothers in the group there should heed his orders and obey him in all that which is good."
Bin Laden called for a boycott of the Iraqi elections scheduled on January 30.
He blasted Paul Bremer, the former civilian administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority, for imposing "a man-made, secular constitution" that was not solely based on Islamic law.
Such a constitution, according to Islam, he said, "is an infidel constitution" even if "the source of 90 percent of the laws is the Islamic Shariah (law) and the source of 10 percent is man-made legislation.
"Based on that, whoever participates, knowingly and willingly, in the elections we have just described, becomes a non-believer."