Iraqi Group Threatens to Kill Al-Zarqawi
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- A group of armed masked men threatened Tuesday to kill Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, saying that he was murdering innocent Iraqis and defiling the Muslim religion.
In a videotape sent to al-Arabiya television, the previously unknown group, which called itself the "Salvation Movement," ordered al-Zarqawi to leave the country immediately and questioned how he could justify the killing of innocent civilians and his threats to assassinate interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.
The threat came a day after U.S.-led coalition forces, who have been targeting Zarqawi, launched an air strike in the restive city of Fallujah on a suspected safe house used by his followers. The attack killed 15 people, witnesses said.
In the video, three men with rocket propelled grenades and other weapons, flanked by an Iraqi flag, delivered the threats. The man speaking had a clear Iraqi accent.
"We have started preparing ... to capture him and his allies or kill them and present them as gift to our people." one of the men, whose faces were covered with Arab headscarves, said in the video. "This is the last ultimatum to those who give him shelter. This is the last warning. If you don't stop, we will do to you what the coalition forces have failed to do."
Al-Zarqawi, said to be connected to al-Qaida, is believed to be behind a series of coordinated attacks on police and security forces that killed 100 people only days before U.S. forces handed over power to an Iraqi interim government.
The attacks have led to fears that religious fanatics and Saddam loyalists may be joining forces to fight both the multinational force and the new Iraqi government.
However, many Iraqis, including insurgents, are deeply opposed to the presence of Zarqawi and other foreign fighters in their country.