IRAQ Militant leader urges Kuwaitis to join fight
A professionally made recruitment CD-ROM shows U.S. bombing raids.
KUWAIT CITY -- Followers of Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi released a CD-ROM urging Muslim men to take up arms against the "crusaders" in Iraq and threatening to kill Iraq's interim prime minister.
The 45-minute CD-ROM, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press on Friday, appeared aimed at recruiting potential fighters and included claims of responsibility for attacks in Iraq and footage of bombings against U.S. forces and other targets in Iraq.
The release of the CD, the contents of which could not be independently authenticated, was reported Friday by Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Siyassah, which provided a copy to the AP. It was not clear where the CD was produced.
Titled "The Winds of Victory," the recording shows fighters purportedly from al-Zarqawi's Tawhid and Jihad group undergoing weapons training in different locations, some apparently in the desert and others in grassy areas. It also contains footage taken from inside cars following militants in Iraq conducting attacks, some of which has been previously aired by TV stations.
The Kuwaiti newspaper said the professionally produced CD-ROM is being circulated among fundamentalists in this oil-rich country, which borders Iraq.
A narrator on the film urges Muslim men to join the fight against U.S.-led forces in Iraq, saying "get up friends, God has opened the doors of paradise [to martyrs]."
The CD-ROM also repeats Tawhid and Jihad's threat to kill Ayad Allawi, the interim Iraqi prime minister, saying, "You escaped ... several times from tight traps, but we promise you to go on [trying] until the end."
Footage used shows a car exploding in a street as people pass by. The narrator claims this attack was the May 2004 car bomb assassination of Iraqi Governing Council president Abdel-Zahraa Othman, better known as Izzadine Saleem.
The production starts with scenes of bombing raids conducted during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq that toppled Saddam Hussein more than a year ago.
The footage shows injured Iraqi children, American soldiers searching houses as frightened Iraqis leave their homes with arms raised and photos showing the mistreatment of Iraq prisoners by American captors at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad.
"Whenever I remember our ... sisters in the prisons of the crusaders ... I feel the earth moving underneath me and I promise God to take revenge," said the narrator on the CD-ROM.
Al-Zarqawi's group has claimed responsibility for numerous deadly attacks across Iraq, including the beheadings of U.S. businessman Nicholas Berg, South Korean translator Kim Sun-il and Bulgarian truck driver Georgi Lazov.
Meanwhile, the United Nations is planning to re-establish a permanent presence in Iraq as early as today, starting with a team of six political officers who will help prepare an upcoming national conference in Baghdad.
Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, the new U.N. special envoy to Iraq, is due to arrive next week -- almost a year after a suicide bomb attack on U.N. headquarters in Baghdad last Aug. 19 killed his predecessor, Sergio Vieira de Mello, and 21 others.
On Thursday, U.N. officials asked the United States for an aircraft to transport the political team to Baghdad as soon as possible to help with preparations for the conference, which is scheduled for Aug. 15. Arranging visas to allow the group to fly commercially through Kuwait would be too time-consuming, said a letter to the United States from the Under Secretary General for Political Affairs, Kieran Prendergast.
The United Nations still is wary of placing its staff in danger, but recognizes the importance of returning. U.N. advisers will help organize the national conference of civic and tribal leaders, which will appoint an interim national assembly. They will also assist in preparations for elections and help draft a new constitution.
Secretary General Kofi Annan has resisted growing pressure from the United States for the world body to resume its work in Iraq -- not only to assist American rebuilding efforts, but also to encourage other groups to follow. Annan has insisted that the Security Council give him flexibility on when and how to send in large numbers of international staff.
A recent Security Council resolution provides for a "distinct force" of about 4,000 troops under U.S. command to protect U.N. staff and equipment in Iraq. But despite discussions with half a dozen countries, there have been no firm offers of troops, Annan said Wednesday. A separate Saudi proposal for an Islamic force to protect the United Nations has failed to gain momentum.