Sun, Aug 08, 2004 - Page 7 News List

Iraqi PM receives al-Qaeda death threat

REUTERS , DUBAI

A militant group linked to al-Qaeda ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi threatened in a statement yesterday to kill Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and other Iraqi officials.

"Allawi be sure that we only have the sword for you, whose thirst we'll quench with your blood. This may be soon by the strength of God," said the statement posted on an a Web site Islamic militants have sometimes used to post warnings.

The statement, signed by the Tawhid and Jihad Group, listed several attacks the group had claimed and warned Iraqi officials, "The list has begun but hasn't ended."

Its authenticity could not be immediately verified.

Zarqawi's group has claimed responsibility for several suicide bombings and other attacks on Iraqi and US officials in recent months. It has also killed an American, a South Korean and a Bulgarian hostage in Iraq.

The group said in Saturday's statement it was pleased when the Iraqi governor of Anbar province -- who told reporters on Thursday he was resigning as demanded by kidnappers who seized three of his sons last week -- "recanted" his sins and warned it would kill Iraqi officials who had "sold out" their religion.

"Governor, when you recanted, it was more pleasurable to us than killing you would have been. All that we want is that your recanting is an example for all others who have chosen worldly gains and sold out their religion," it said.

"We warn them [Iraqi officials] that we have killed the head of the Governing Council Abdul Zahra and his followers in the Interior Ministry. The Justice Minister has managed to escape us. We have killed the Governor of Mosul, and here we have captured the Governor of Anbar. The list has begun but hasn't ended."

"Realize that if you fall into our hands, we will not be merciful and we won't be fooled by your recanting. Take heed, for now we have warned you."

In May, a suicide car bomb killed the head of Iraq's Governing Council Abdul Zahra Othman Mohammad.

Zarqawi's group claimed in July the killing of the governor of the Iraqi city of Mosul in an ambush and a suicide car bombing of a convoy in Baghdad that killed five bodyguards of Justice Minister Malik al-Hassan. The minister was unhurt.

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