Al-Zarqawi successor's video shown again (Associated Press)
Sunday September 24th, 2006
The man purported to be the new leader of Al-Qaida in Iraq appeared in previously released video showing him execute a Turkish hostage, the terror group says in a statement posted on the Internet along with a repeat of the recording.
If described accurately, the images would be the first of Abu Ayyub al-Masri to be released since the group announced that he had succeeded Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed by a U.S. air strike in Iraq on June 7.
The posting appeared Friday night on a Web site frequently used by Islamic militants just as Sunni Arabs in Iraq began Ramadan, the Islamic holy month. U.S. officials have warned that attacks could intensify during Ramadan, and the video could be a signal from al-Masri to his followers.
The video, which the statement described only as "old," first appeared on Aug. 2, 2004.
In the video, three masked men stand behind a hostage seated on the ground wearing a tan shirt. The militant in the middle, identified in the latest Web posting as al-Masri, reads a statement in Arabic, then the hostage, Murad Yucer from Ankara, reads a statement in Turkish.
After Yucer finishes, the militant in the middle shoots the now-blindfolded hostage three times in the head.
The scarves make it impossible to identify the three militants. However, the statement says the execution was performed by Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, al-Masri's militant name.
Al-Masri, a Sunni Muslim, has been relatively silent since taking over control of al-Qaida in Iraq — a sharp contrast with al-Zarqawi, who frequently issued audiotapes and even a videotape that showed his face a few weeks before he was killed.
A statement appeared in al-Masri's name shortly after al-Zarqawi's death and earlier this month an audio recording attributed to him was posted on the Internet.
Yucer was an employee of a Turkish company that subcontracted for a Jordanian company providing services to U.S. military bases.
Several Turks have been kidnapped and killed in Iraq and at least seven Turkish companies have announced their withdrawal from Iraq to secure the release of kidnapped staff.