AP file
An undated photo of Ihab al-Sherif, Egypt's ambassador to Iraq, who Al-Qaida claimed to have killed in a web statement released on Thursday.
updated 7/7/2005 10:49:38 AM ET 2005-07-07T14:49:38

Al-Qaida in Iraq said in a statement released on the Internet on Thursday that it has killed Egypt’s top envoy in Iraq, posting a video of the blindfolded diplomat identifying himself.

“We announce in the al-Qaida in Iraq that the verdict of God against the ambassador of the infidels, the ambassador of Egypt, has been carried out. Thank God,” a written statement in the Web posting said.

The video does not show the envoy, Ihab al-Sherif, being killed.

'Sentenced to death'
Al-Qaida in Iraq, headed by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, said a day earlier that it had sentenced al-Sherif to death as an “apostate” for his country’s support of the United States and the Iraqi government. The group has previously beheaded several foreign hostages, including three Americans.

Al-Sherif, who was sent to Baghdad in early June, was abducted from a Baghdad street late Saturday.

The video shows a man who appears to be the diplomat, blindfolded and wearing a polo shirt.

He identifies himself as al-Sherif, says he is the head of the interests section in Iraq and gives his address. He then says he worked previously in Israel, where al-Sherif was part of the Egyptian embassy.

The claim’s authenticity could not immediately be confirmed. Egyptian Foreign Ministry officials could not be immediately reached.

Egypt attacked due to stepped up role
Last month, the Egyptian government said it would upgrade its mission in Iraq to full embassy status headed by an ambassador, which would have made al-Sherif the first Arab ambassador to Iraq’s new government — although the move had not yet been officially made.

The Web statement said al-Qaida had hoped to kidnap more ambassadors.

“The reason we delayed the announcement of capturing the ambassador of the dictator Egypt was to be able to capture as many ambassadors as we can,” it said, referring to the fact that al-Qaida didn’t announce al-Sherif’s abduction until several days later.

The statement denounced the Egyptian government for its support of the United States. It said al-Sherif gave his captors under interrogation “information making clear the infidel nature of the [Egyptian] regime and his confessions have been recorded.”

“The Egyptian regime is one of the first to launch war on Islam and Muslims, since several decades,” the statement said, pointing to Egypt’s crackdown on Islamic militants on its own soil and its agreement to train Iraqi security forces.

“It was first to obey the crusaders in ... sending the first ambassador to the (Iraqi)government,” read the statement, referring to Egypt’s announcement last month that it would send an ambassador to Baghdad, the first Arab government to do so.

“Our sheik Abu Musab al-Zarqawi ... is determined to stand up to traitors and crusaders and all those who stand with them, and we vow to all the dictatorial nations that Iraq is not safe for infidels because God has empowered the mujahedeen,” said the statement.

Al-Qaida in Iraq has waged a campaign of attacks on Iraqi and U.S. forces in Iraq.

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