Al Qaeda in Iraq issues call to kidnap Westerners to free jailed 1993 WTC plotter - calls for nuclear scientists to make dirty bomb
September 29, 2006
60 bodies discovered in Baghdad
Tape urges scientists to join insurgents
Also Thursday, in an audiotape, a speaker believed to be Al Qaeda in Iraq's leader called for nuclear scientists to join his group's holy war and urged insurgents to kidnap Westerners so they could be traded for a blind Egyptian sheik who is serving a life sentence in a U.S. prison.
The speaker said experts in the fields of "chemistry, physics, electronics, media and all other sciences--especially nuclear scientists and explosives experts" should join his group's jihad, or holy war, against the West.
"We are in dire need of you," said the speaker, who identified himself as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, also known as Abu Ayyub al-Masri. "The field of jihad can satisfy your scientific ambitions, and the large American bases [in Iraq] are good places to test your unconventional weapons, whether biological or dirty, as they call them."
The 20-minute audio was posted to a Web site that frequently airs Al Qaeda messages. The authenticity of the tape could not be verified, but it was thought to be al-Masri's voice. He is believed to have succeeded Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who died in a U.S. air strike in June.
Thursday's message focused attention on Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, a 68-year-old Egyptian cleric who was convicted in 1995 of seditious conspiracy for his advisory role in a plot to assassinate Egypt's president and blow up five New York landmarks including the United Nations. Abdel-Rahman is considered the leader of Egyptian Islamic militants, and the 1993 World Trade Center conspirators were known to have attended his lectures.
...On the tape, the speaker offered amnesty to Iraqis who had cooperated with their country's "occupiers," calling on them to "return to your religion and nation" during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which Sunnis began observing in Iraq on Saturday and Shiites on Monday.
"We will not attack you as long as you declare your true repentance in front of your tribe and relatives," he said. "The amnesty ends by the end of this holy month."
'Iraq al-Qaeda' makes kidnap call"
The leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, has called for kidnapping of Westerners, according to a recording issued on the internet.
"I call on every holy fighter in Iraq to strive to capture some dogs of the Christians so that we can liberate our imprisoned sheikh," the tape says.
It is a reference to Egyptian cleric Omar Abdul Rahman, held in the US over the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Issued on Islamist websites, the tape's authenticity could not be verified.It appears to have been issued to mark the beginning of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, normally a time for prayer and fasting.
"I congratulate the Muslim nation on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan, the month of jihad (holy war).
"I ask God to make it a month for honour and victory for Muslims," the voice says.
The recording discloses for the first time the number of non-Iraqi insurgents said to have been killed fighting US-led forces in Iraq since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
"More than 4,000 emigres and many more of the supporters of righteousness [Iraqi insurgents] have given their blood to Iraq," the speaker says.
It also calls for explosives experts and nuclear scientists to help launch non-conventional attacks on US bases, using biological or radialogical weapons, so-called "dirty bombs".
The recording also offers an amnesty to those who had collaborated with US-led forces or fled the country, if they repented before the end of Ramadan.
Beginning in the spring of 2004, the group under the leadership of the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi staged a string of high-profile kidnappings.
Some of the foreign hostages were beheaded, with the images posted on the internet in video footage attributed to Zarqawi's group.
The wave of abductions caused many foreigners to leave Iraq or live under the protection of armed bodyguards in heavily fortified compounds.
Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, also known as Ayyub al-Masri, was identified by US forces as Zarqawi's successor after they killed Zarqawi in a raid in June 2006.