[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 28 September 2006, 17:17 GMT 18:17 UK
'Iraq al-Qaeda' makes kidnap call
Abu Hamza
Abu Hamza was identified in June as the late Zarqawi's successor
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.

More than 4,000 emigres and many more of the supporters of righteousness [Iraqi insurgents] have given their blood to Iraq
'Muhajir' recording
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.

Dirty bombs

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 radiological 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.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific