An al-Qaida umbrella group claimed in a new video Monday that its militants killed three U.S. soldiers after capturing them last month. In Baghdad, the U.S. military condemned the claim and said the search for them will continue.
An Islamic militant Web site said earlier on Monday it would soon release video clips showing the capture of three American soldiers who disappeared following an ambush in Iraq in mid-May. The body of one soldier was later found, but the other two remain missing.
The video shows the kidnapping as well as footage from after the attack, according to the Washington-based SITE Institute, which said it had obtained the 10-minute, 41-second clip.
The institute, which monitors militant Web sites, said the video also shows the identification cards of the two of the soldiers. A prominent Islamic Web site said in a banner headline it would soon show the video, but it was not yet posted.
Terrorism expert Evan Kohlman told NBC News he has seen the video and that it does not show any of the three soldiers who were abducted. According to Kohlman, the footage is of a nighttime attack from a distance, which the video claims is when the Americans were grabbed.
One GI found dead
The three U.S. soldiers were captured west of Baghdad on May 12 in an ambush later claimed by an insurgent umbrella group, the Islamic State of Iraq, that includes al-Qaida in Iraq.
The body of one of the soldiers was found on May 23 in the Euphrates River and later identified by the U.S. military as Pfc. Joseph Anzack Jr., 20, of Torrance, Calif.
The two other soldiers — Spc. Alex R. Jimenez, 25, of Lawrence, Mass., and Pvt. Byron W. Fouty, 19, of Waterford, Mich. — remain missing.
A family friend of Fouty said the military briefed the soldier’s father, Mick Fouty, about the video on Saturday night.
“From what I hear, it shows the soldiers' uniforms and dog tags and warns the U.S. to back off on the search,” said Cathy Conger. Fouty lived with her family in the Detroit suburb of Commerce Township for 14 months before he left for Iraq.
“What it does not show one way or another is if they’re alive or not,” Conger said. “I just feel really bad about it. I hope that he’s still alive. My prayers are with him.”
Fouty’s stepfather, Gordon Dibler, said the military told him Saturday that the video showed personal identification items from the soldiers.
“They prepared me in a very proper and considerate way,” he told WWJ-AM radio in suburban Detroit.
In Massachusetts, the Jimenez family had not seen the video Monday, said Wendy Luzon, a family friend who spoke with Jimenez’s father, Ramon “Andy” Jimenez.
“He said it was a good sign for the family,” Luzon said.
The three are from the 10th Mountain Division based out of Fort Drum, N.Y.
Meantime, the U.S. military said Sunday that 14 American soldiers were killed in three deadly days in Iraq, including four in a single roadside bombing and one who was struck by a suicide bomber while on a foot patrol southwest of the capital.
The blast that killed the four soldiers occurred Sunday as the troops were conducting a cordon and search operation northwest of the Iraqi capital, according to a statement. Two other soldiers from Multi-National Division-Baghdad were killed and five were wounded along with an Iraqi interpreter in two separate roadside bombings on Sunday, the military said.
One soldier was killed Friday after the patrol approached two suspicious men for questioning near a mosque, and one of the suspects blew himself up, according to a statement. The military did not provide more details.
Seven others troops were killed in a series of attacks across Iraq on Saturday.
The deaths raised to at least 3,493 members of the U.S. military who have died since the war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.