Saturday, January 22, 2005

Video apparently shows public beheadings

Excerpt from CNN

Ambulance plows into Iraq wedding, explodes

Friday, January 21, 2005 Posted: 4:30 PM EST (2130 GMT)

A man is treated Friday after a car bombing outside a mosque in Baghdad.


BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A video posted on an Islamist Web site apparently shows two Iraqis being beheaded on a city sidewalk as pedestrians and vehicles pass by.

The video was posted on a Web site that previously has shown video verified as being produced by a group led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. However, CNN has not confirmed the authenticity of this video.

In the video, the two men tell their kidnappers that they drove truckloads of food and supplies to an American base in the central Iraqi town of Ramadi.

The men said they lived in the Sadr City section of Baghdad and worked for a Lebanese company. While they admitted staying on a U.S. base for two weeks, the two said they were lured into the $150-a-month job not knowing they would be working for Americans.

The two men stood -- blindfolded with hands bound behind their backs -- in front of an Arabic banner bearing the name "al Qaeda in Iraq," a group linked to al-Zarqawi that has been responsible for numerous beheadings and other violence.

The last section of the 10-minute video shows the men beheaded by several hooded men as the victims lie on a sidewalk and onlookers cheer "Allah akbar" -- Arabic for "God is great."

Arabic text edited into the video said the men were killed because "they worked for the infidels."

Before their deaths, each man made a statement warning other Iraqis about working for the United States.

"You ruin your life and you lose and you get killed," one man said.

At the prompting of their captors, the men several times repeated in Arabic, "Ramadi is the city of the mujahedeen."

It's unclear from the video where the beheadings were carried out.
Wedding party attacked

An ambulance drove into a wedding party and exploded in Youssifiya, a town south of Baghdad Friday evening, killing several people and wounding at least 38 others, Iraqi police said.

A suicide bomber drove the vehicle into the crowd between 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. (11:30 a.m. to noon ET), and the ambulance ignited into a ball of fire, authorities said.

The blast was the latest in a string of attacks Friday, including a car bombing near a Shiite mosque in the Iraqi capital that killed at least 14 worshippers and wounded 42 others, Iraqi police said.

The worshippers had gathered outside the Shouhada al-Taf mosque after morning prayers.

Friday is Eid al-Adha, or Feast of Sacrifice, marking the end of Muslims' pilgrimage, or Hajj, to Mecca. The holiday is celebrated worldwide with the traditional sacrificing of animals and exchanging of gifts.

In northern Baghdad, insurgents threw four grenades at an Iraqi police river patrol, wounding four police officers, a police official said.

West of Baghdad in Hit, about 15 masked gunmen ransacked a police station Friday morning, a police official in Ramadi said, but no one was injured.

The gunmen stormed the station, forcing all the police to evacuate, then stole equipment inside. They blew up the building and stole two police cars.

In addition, two Iraqi civilians were critically wounded Friday when insurgents fired a mortar round, hitting their home in northern Baghdad, police said. The insurgents may have been trying to target an oil pump station behind the house, according to police.

Also Friday, a U.S. soldier was killed and another wounded while raiding a bomb-making cell north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said. With the fatality, 1,371 U.S. troops have died in the Iraq war.

The raid took place near Ad Duluiya, about 60 miles (97 km) north of Baghdad, a military statement said. One insurgent was killed and 12 suspects detained after the raid on eight locations, the statement said.

The bombings came a day after a top Iraqi police official said Thursday that intelligence sources estimate 150 car bombs and 250 suicide attackers are prepared to strike as the January 30 elections near.

The official said the information came to light during interrogations of recently detained insurgents who said targets would include election centers and other locations.

"This is the trend we have been expecting as we get closer to the election," a U.S. military spokesman said.

On Wednesday, four suicide car bomb attacks around Baghdad killed at least 25 Iraqis in 90 minutes.

Several Web sites published claims of responsibility for those bombings by the terrorist network led by al-Zarqawi. (Full story)

A voice claiming to be al-Zarqawi said in a recording found Thursday on an Islamic Web site that followers must be patient because "the fierce battle doesn't end quickly."

U.S. intelligence officials said Friday that the voice on the tape is likely that of al-Zarqawi. The CIA routinely conducts a technical analysis of such tapes to ascertain if their claims are authentic.
Other developments

# A car bomb exploded Thursday near the entrance to a military base in British-controlled southern Iraq, killing an Iraqi civilian and wounding 15 others -- nine British soldiers and six Iraqi civilians, the British military said. The blast happened at the Shaibah Logistic Base, about 12 miles (19 kilometers) southwest of Basra, a spokesman said.

# The commander of three British troops accused of mistreating Iraqi detainees testified Friday that he had ordered his troops to crack down on looters. (Full story)

# In a new video, a group calling itself the Islamic Resistance Movement demanded again that the Chinese government issue a statement saying it would not allow its citizens to work for Americans in Iraq. The group is threatening to kill eight Chinese hostages. (Full story)

# Five Danish soldiers have been charged with abusing Iraqi prisoners during interrogations in southern Iraq, a Danish government spokesman said. The soldiers allegedly forced Iraqi prisoners to maintain painful positions at Danish military headquarters near Basra, the spokesman said.

CNN's David Ensor, Octavia Nasr, Cal Perry, Auday Sadik and Mohammad Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

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