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Iraq group posts video claiming hostage killing

An Iraqi militant group posted on the Internet on Monday a video it said showed the killing of a U.S. security consultant it had abducted earlier this month.
Video grab shows a blindfolded man kneeling on the ground being shot by an automatic rifle
This scene from a militant video shows a blindfolded man being shot. The man was identified by the militant group, the Islamic Army in Iraq, as Ronald Schulz, who was abducted in December.Reuters
/ Source: The Associated Press

A video posted on a Web site in the name of an extremist group Monday purportedly showed a man being shot in the back of the head, days after the group claimed to have killed American adviser Ronald Allen Schulz.

Meanwhile, a German woman released Sunday after being held hostage for three weeks is expected to leave Iraq soon, but she likely will not return to her homeland for some time, the German government said Monday.

The video purportedly posted by the Islamic Army of Iraq did not show the face of the victim, and it was impossible to identify him conclusively. The victim was blindfolded and kneeling with his back to the camera and his hands tied behind his back when he purportedly was shot.

In a separate video, shown on a split screen as the alleged killing was aired, the extremist group showed a picture of Schulz, a former U.S. Marine, alive. The group aired the same footage of Schulz when he was first taken hostage earlier this month.

In an Internet posting last week, the group claimed it killed Schulz, 40, and then said later it would show the killing. The group said it had killed Schulz after the United States failed to respond to its demand for the release of Iraqi prisoners.

Pentagon: No info
In Washington, Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said he had no information about the video or the fate of Schulz.

On Tuesday, President Bush said the United States would work for the return of captive Americans in Iraq but would not submit to terrorist tactics.

“We, of course, don’t pay ransom for any hostages,” Bush said.

Schulz, a civilian contractor from Eagle River, Alaska, has been identified by the extremist group as a security consultant for the Iraqi Housing Ministry, although neighbors and family say he is an industrial electrician who has worked on contracts around the world.

Schulz, a native of North Dakota, served in the Marine Corps from 1984 to 1991. He moved to Alaska six years ago, and friends and family say he is divorced.

The videotape showed a man purportedly being shot as he kneeled in an open, empty area of dirt. The video also showed Schulz’s identity card.

Schulz’s sister, Julie, in Jamestown, N.D., said Monday she had no confirmation of her brother’s death from U.S. officials.

“We’re still waiting for confirmation,” she told The Associated Press

The group, one of the most active terrorist groups in Iraq, is believed to include former Baathists and loyalists to Saddam Hussein — including former Palestinian militants who lived in Iraq under Saddam.

According to the group’s literature, it aims to drive all U.S. and coalition forces from Iraq, and it has targeted foreigners in Iraq.

Tied to hostage killings
The group has been implicated in the killings of Italian journalist Enzo Baldoni, who volunteered for the Red Cross in Iraq; Pakistani contractors; and Macedonians working for a U.S. company. It also was involved in abducting French journalists.

The Islamic Army of Iraq also has collaborated with Ansar al-Sunnah and Al-Qaida in Iraq. It claimed responsibility for a September 2004 assassination attempt against Iraqi politician Ahmed Chalabi that killed two of his bodyguards.

The claim and video showing the alleged killing were posted on several Web sites known for carrying Islamic extremist claims.

The video briefly appeared on the sites and then disappeared — something that frequently happens with such videos and postings as the militants apparently effort to ensure they cannot be traced. Later, it popped up again on at least one of the sites.

German woman ‘doing well’
In Berlin, German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Jaeger refused to comment on the circumstances of Susanne Osthoff’s release or who, other than German authorities, may have been involved.

Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble also said he would not comment “in the interest of all those who helped to solve the problem.” But Jaeger said Osthoff “is doing well considering the circumstances” and is in good physical condition.

Osthoff, a 43-year-old aid worker and archaeologist, was the first German taken in Iraq.

Osthoff disappeared along with her Iraqi driver, whom German media have identified as Khalid al-Shimani, on Nov. 25. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Sunday the kidnappers promised to free the driver, too.

Germany’s ZDF television, citing security officials it did not identify, reported Monday that the driver was now believed to have been freed. However, Jaeger did not confirm that, saying the man has not checked in with the German embassy.