Al Qaeda’s suspected leader in Iraq, Abu Musab Zarqawi, said his group had formed a new armed wing to fight the Badr Brigade, a Shiite Muslim militia, according to an audiotape posted Tuesday on the Internet.
The voice on the tape, which sounded similar to previous recordings attributed to Zarqawi, also said that the U.S.-allied Iraqi army was his enemy.
“Some say that the resistance is divided into two groups -- an honorable resistance that fights the nonbeliever-occupier and a dishonorable resistance that fights Iraqis,” the speaker said. “We announce that the Iraqi army is an army of apostates and mercenaries that has allied itself with the crusaders who came to destroy Islam and fight Muslims. We will fight it.”
Hadi Amery, the leader of the Badr Brigade, a powerful Shiite militia allied with the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq that fought Saddam Hussein from exile in Iran, has denied sending hit squads against Sunni Muslims.
Although the group now calls itself the Badr Organization and says it is a political movement, many Iraqis believe it is still a fighting force.
The tape said Zarqawi’s new “Omar Brigade” would “eradicate” the Badr Brigade.
Zarqawi’s spiritual mentor, who Al Jazeera television said was arrested by Jordanian authorities Tuesday, reportedly criticized militant suicide attacks in Iraq and those against Shiites.