Alqaeda says kills egypt envoy in iraq
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Al Qaeda says kills Egypt envoy in Iraq-Web
Thu Jul 7, 2005 6:43 PM BST
By Samia Nakhoul
DUBAI (Reuters) - Al Qaeda group in Iraq said on Thursday it killed Egypt's top envoy to Iraq for representing a "tyrannical" government allied to the "Jews and crusaders".
"We al Qaeda in Iraq announce that the judgement of God has been implemented against the ambassador of the infidels, the ambassador of Egypt. Oh enemy of God, Ihab el-Sherif, this is your punishment in this life," said the group in an Internet statement posted on an Islamist Web site.
The group, led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, posted a video showing the hostage speaking but not the actual killing.
The Egyptian presidency confirmed that Sherif was dead, saying in a statement that the envoy had "lost his life at the hands of terrorism which trades in Islam".
On the video, Sherif appeared blindfolded. He identified himself by name and said he was the head of the Egyptian mission in Iraq with ambassadorial rank in Egypt's foreign ministry.
"Previously ... I was deputy to the Egyptian ambassador to Israel," Sherif said on the video in which he appeared alone without militants.
Al Qaeda Organisation for Holy War in Iraq said it would later provide details of Sherif's interrogation.
"The ambassador of the infidels gave information that showed the infidelity of his regime and allegiance to the Jews and Christians. His confessions were taped," said the statement.
The Sunni Muslim group announced on Wednesday that it would kill Sherif, kidnapped on Saturday, and also warned that other envoys would face the same fate. It has in the past beheaded foreign captives, including two Americans and a Briton.
Zarqawi's group is one of the leaders of a bloody insurgency against U.S. forces and the American-backed Iraqi government. Most of the hostages taken by the group have been killed.
The group said Egypt, a key U.S. ally and the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel, was one of the first countries to have waged war against Muslims.
President Hosni Mubarak's government has been fighting Islamist militants trying to install a purist Islamic state since his predecessor, Anwar Sadat, was shot dead by an Islamist soldier in 1981.
"Egypt's prisons are full of mujahideen and its courts do not rule by God's law. They have issued sentences against true Muslims, including our Sheikh Ayman al-Zawahri," al Qaeda said, referring to the Egyptian right-hand man of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, wanted by Cairo for anti-government attacks.
It slammed Egypt for rushing to train Iraqi army and police after the 2003 U.S.-led war on Iraq that toppled Saddam Hussein.
"We warn all the despotic countries that Iraq will not be secure for infidels because our mujahideen fighters are strong there," the group said.
Gunmen have also targeted the envoys of Pakistan and Bahrain in Baghdad after Saturday's abduction of Sherif, provoking fear of a diplomatic exodus from Iraq. The campaign seems aimed at denying the Shi'ite-led government in Baghdad the legitimacy it craves through improved ties.