Al-Qaeda in Iraq justifies attacks on Christians
An Al-Qaeda group in Iraq has announced Christians "legitimate targets" as a deadline expired for Egypt's Coptic church to release women allegedly held after converting to Islam, SITE monitors said Wednesday. The Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) said in an Internet statement its Sunday's attack on a Central Baghdad church was justified following the refusal to indicate the status of the women it said were being held captive in monasteries. "All Christian centres, organisations and institutions, leaders and followers, are legitimate targets for the mujahedeen (holy warriors) wherever they can reach them," said the statement. "Let these idolaters, and at their forefront, the hallucinating tyrant of the Vatican, know that the killing sword will not be lifted from the necks of their followers until they declare their innocence from what the dog of the Egyptian Church is doing," the ISI said in its latest statement. It also demanded that the Christians "show to the mujahedeen their seriousness to pressure this belligerent church to release the captive women from the prisons of their monasteries." The women, Camilia Shehata and Wafa Constantine, are the wives of Coptic priests whom Islamists have said were forcibly detained by the Coptic Church after they had willingly converted to Islam.