Iraqis watch Jihad TV in Baghdad (AFP)
Italy’s Prime Minister Berlusconi, say the mujahedin, must “apologize for his wrongs against Islam.” They may refer not just to Italy’s support for the U.S., but of the Italian Prime Minister’s notorious post-9/11 remarks. At that time he said: “We must be aware of the superiority of our civilisation, a system that has guaranteed well-being, respect for human rights and “” in contrast with Islamic countries “” respect for religious and political rights, a system that has as its value understanding of diversity and tolerance.”
The kidnappers sure aren’t giving him any reason to reconsider those words. From AP:
CAIRO, Egypt – An Italian hostage in Iraq was killed and his death recorded on a videotape received by Al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based network said Wednesday.
The network aired a short segment of the video showing the four Italian hostages sitting on the ground, holding up their passports and surrounded by armed men. Al-Jazeera said the death of one of the Italians is captured on the tape as well but that it declined to broadcast the footage.
The network refused to say how it received the tape.
The four Italian security guards were abducted Monday. Three were working for a U.S.-based company while a fourth was employed by a Seychelles-based firm, Italian officials said.
An Iranian delegation had been headed to Baghdad to try to win their release.
The tape was accompanied by a statement from a previously unknown group calling itself the Green Battalion, which threatened to “kill the three remaining Italian hostages one after the other, if their demands are not met,” Al-Jazeera said.
The statement, read by an Al-Jazeera anchor, accused Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi of caring more about his “masters in the White House than his own people.”
The group demanded the withdrawal U.S. forces from Iraq “according to a timetable” and that Berlusconi “apologize for his wrongs against Islam.” It also called for the release of all religious clerics being held in Iraq.
In Rome, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said late Wednesday that the government had no confirmation of the killing.
“Obviously, we hope this news turns out to be false,” he said on Italian television. “The kidnappers are, as you said, a group of bandits, not tied organically to any group.”
Al-Jazeera spokesman Jihad Ballout would not say how the station received the tape. “Al-Jazeera does not comment on these details.”
The station has said previous tapes sent by militant groups have been dropped off at their office in Baghdad.