Al-Qaida in Iraq sentences hostages to death

The al-Qaida in Iraq militant group said today it has sentenced two Moroccan embassy employees kidnapped last month to death.

The al-Qaida in Iraq militant group said today it has sentenced two Moroccan embassy employees kidnapped last month to death.

The group said in a statement posted on an Islamist web forum that its “Islamic court” had judged the two men as “apostates” who were waging a “war on Islam".

“Based on this, the court decided to issue God’s verdict upon the apostates and sentenced them to death,” it said. The statement, whose authenticity could not be confirmed, did not say whether the two men had been killed yet.

The Moroccan Foreign Ministry has identified the missing members of its diplomatic mission in Baghdad as driver Abderrahim Boualam and employee Abdelkrim el-Mouhafidi, saying they disappeared October 20 while driving to Baghdad from Jordan, where they had gone to pick up their paycheques.

Al-Qaida in Iraq, one of the most feared insurgent groups in Iraq, has claimed responsibility for executing numerous hostages, including diplomats from Egypt and Algeria. It has warned Arab nations not to step up their diplomatic missions in Baghdad or send ambassadors, which would be a sign of support for Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government.

The statement said the two Moroccans “compounded their disbelief in God and their war on Islam by supporting the government of the Shiite apostates in Baghad. This is what their statements have confirmed and what their government hasn’t concealed, sending them to pave the way for the ambassador who they promised the Baghdad government.”

“May they be a new lesson for us to disperse those who might follow them, those who dare challenge the mujahideen and set foot in the proud land of Mesopotamia,” the statement said.

In July, al-Qaida in Iraq – led by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi - kidnapped and killed the head of the Egyptian mission in Iraq after that country said it would send an ambassador to Baghdad. Days later, the group also killed the head of the Algerian mission and another Algerian employee.

The group has also carried out a wave of suicide bombings and othe attacks against civilians – particularly Shiites – and US and Iraqi forces.

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