Al-Zarqawi declares war on Iraqi Shia

Iraq's al-Qaida leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has declared "all-out war" on Shia Muslims in Iraq in response to a US-Iraqi offensive on the town of Tal Afar, according to an audio clip posted on the internet.

    Iraq's al-Qaida leader also urged Sunni Arabs to wake up

    "The al-Qaeda Organisation in the Land of Two Rivers (Iraq) is

    declaring all-out war on the Rafidha (a pejorative term for

    Shia), wherever they are in Iraq,"

    said the voice which could not be immediately verified but sounded like previous recordings attributed to al-Zarqawi. 

    "As for the government, servants of the crusaders headed by

    Ibrahim al-Jaafari, they have declared a war on Sunnis in Tal

    Afar," the clip added.

    Earlier on Wednesday, al-Qaida said in an i

    nternet posting it was waging a nationwide suicide bombing

    campaign to avenge the military offensive on Tal Afar as a string of

    explosions in Baghdad killed at least 150 people. 

    Warning to others

    The purported al-Zarqawi recording also warned all other religious

    and tribal groups to join his anti-government campaign or also face

    attacks, saying:

    "You must choose between the good side and the bad side.

    "Any religious group that wants to be safe from the blows of the

    mujahidin must [disavow] the government of al-

    Jaafari and its crimes. Otherwise it will

    suffer the same fate as that of the crusaders"


    Internet audio clip attributed to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi

    "Any religious group that wants to be safe from the blows of the

    mujahidin must [disavow] the government of al-

    Jaafari and its crimes. Otherwise it will

    suffer the same fate as that of the crusaders," said the tape. 

    At the same time, "any tribe ... whose allegiance to the

    crusaders and their agents is proven will be targeted by the

    mujahidin in the same way the crusaders are".

    The term crusaders is usually applied to the US-led

    forces that ousted president Saddam Hussein in 2003 and that back

    the al-Jaafari government. 

    Wake-up call

    Al-Zarqawi, the one-legged fugitive with a $25-million

    price on his head, also urged Sunni Arabs to "wake up from your

    slumber ... the war to exterminate Sunnis will never end".

    Iraq's most wanted man also challenged Iraqi leaders to leave

    the highly fortified "Green Zone" in Baghdad where the seat of

    government is located, to challenge his mujahidin or warriors. 

    Al-Zarqawi

    was reported injured in May and is said to have been treated in

    an Iraqi hospital.

    He has never released a videotaped

    message. Only grainy

    identity shots, old images from Afghanistan and more recent photos

    of a portly, grizzled figure give any clue as to his appearance.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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