Beheading of American in Iraq: CIA concludes al-Zarqawi behind act; Arab groups, governments condemn
U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that al Qaeda activist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was the person shown on a video beheading an American civilian in Iraq, based on an analysis of the voice on the video, a CIA official said Thursday.
According to The AP, intelligence officials conducted a technical analysis of the video released on an Islamic web site and determined "with high probability" that the person shown speaking on the tape - wearing a head scarf and a ski mask - is al-Zarqawi, a CIA official said.
The speaker is then shown on the video decapitating American civilian Nicholas Berg, the official said.
Berg's body was found in Baghdad on Saturday. On Tuesday, an Islamic Web site released the video, titled "Sheikh Abu Musab al-Zarqawi slaughters an American infidel with his own hands."
The speaker on the video reads a lengthy statement criticizing Islamic scholars and taunting the crusaders.
Standing alongside four other persons wearing headscarves and masks to disguise themselves, al-Zarqawi then kills Berg.
Meanwhile, two Islamic groups, Lebanon's Hizbullah and Hamas, issued strongly worded condemnations Thursday of the videotaped beheading of Berg.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates became the first Arab states to criticize the slaying of Berg.
Hizbullah and the Palestinian group Hamas said the beheading was appalling and un-Islamic.
In a statement faxed to The Associated Press, Hizbullah called Berg's killing an "extremely brutal and cruel" act.
"Hizbullah condemns this grisly act which has caused great harm to Islam and to Muslims by this group which falsely claims to belong to the religion of mercy, compassion and genuine human values," the statement said.
"By its suspicious actions and links, this group belongs to the Pentagon school - the school of killings, occupation, crime, torture and immoral practices as exposed by the big scandal in the occupation prisons."
Osama Hamdan, Hamas' representative in Lebanon, denounced both Berg's killers and President Bush.
"I condemn this brutal act and sympathize with the family of the slain American person, who I consider a victim of the wrong U.S. policies in the region," Hamdan told The Associated Press. "U.S. President George Bush and (Berg's) killers are equally responsible."
Both Hizbullah and Hamas said the beheading damaged Arab causes, and predicted the United States would use it to turn attention away from the prisoner abuse scandal.
Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia became the first Arab states to denounce the beheading.
The Emirates' information minister, Sheikh Abdullah, issued a statement Wednesday night during a visit to Washington.
"We are ashamed, because these terrorists carried out this attack in the name of our religion and our culture," he said. "This brutal act has nothing to do with Islam or our Arab values."
Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States called the decapitation "criminal and inhuman."
"It is not out of character for them (al-Qaeda members) to commit acts that violate the teachings of Islam, a noble religion that deplores such acts," Prince Bandar told reporters in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)