DUBAI (AFP) – Jordanian Mussab al-Zarqawi, the alleged leader of a network in Iraq believed responsible for several attacks there, threatened US-led forces in a recording broadcast on an Islamist website.
In the message said to have originated from inside Iraq, Zarqawi claimed that his “heroic Mujahedin have killed more than 200 soldiers from the coalition of the crusaders.”
Taking credit for several attacks, Zarqawi said “the most recent and not the last was against the Israeli Mossad in the Jabal Lubnan hotel.”
A strong car bomb explosion in front of that hotel on March 17 killed seven people and wounded a dozen people.
“We have torn up their bodies in several places: at the UN in Baghdad, coalition forces in Kerbala, the Italians in Nasirijah, American forces on the al-Khalidiya bridge, US intelligence agents at the Hotel Chahine and the presidential palace in Baghdad, the CIA at the Hotel Rachid, Polish forces at Hilla,” he said.
An expert on Islamist organizations told AFP on condition of anonymity that the voice on the tape was identical to that of three previous recordings attributed to Zarqawi, who is suspected of links to al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, and like him, has had a bounty of 10 million dollars place on his head by US authorities.
Zarqawi, whose real name is Fadel Nazzal Al-Khalayleh, is considered by US officials as one of Al-Qaeda’s top experts in biological and chemical weapons.
He has also been linked to the killing of Laurence Foley, an official of US aid agency USAID, who was shot dead outside his home in the Jordanian capital Amman in October 2002.
In his message, posted on the site www.hostnow.biz/iraq4u/realahl.rm, Zaraqawi also sharply criticizes Iraq’s majority Shiite Muslims as a “Trojan horse used by the enemies of the nation” to take over the country.
He also had sharp words for the spiritual head of Iraq’s Shiite majority, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who has appealed for calm and urged dialog amid recent clashes between Shiite militias and coalition troops, calling him the “imam of atheism”.
“The Shiites are the allies of the Jews and Americans. They are helping kill Muslims,” he said.