Al Qaeda in Iraq on Thursday released what was purported to be the first audiotape by its new leader, Sheik Abu Hamza, also known as Abu Ayyub Masri or “Al Muhajir.”
In the tape, the speaker says victory is coming and condemns Sunni Muslims cooperating with the Iraqi government.
Hamza, an Egyptian, was named leader of Iraq’s most feared terrorist group after his predecessor, Abu Musab Zarqawi, was killed in June by a U.S. airstrike north of Baghdad. The military has put a $5-million bounty on Hamza.
The authenticity of the 20-minute tape, posted on an Islamic militant Internet forum, could not be independently confirmed.
It ends with the voice saying, “Servant of the mujahedin, Abu Hamza al Muhajir, Abdul Menem al Badawi.”
The final name was not immediately recognizable as that of a known militant. It could be Hamza’s real name.
U.S. officials have said Hamza trained with Zarqawi in Osama bin Laden’s camps in Afghanistan.
The speaker on the tape threatens new attacks against U.S. forces and their Iraqi allies and addresses Bin Laden, saying, “We are still sticking to our obligation.”
He also addresses two Sunni political parties that are participating in the Iraqi government -- the Iraqi Islamic Party and the Iraqi Accordance Front -- saying they “lied ... and have betrayed your nation.”
Al Qaeda in Iraq has issued few claims of responsibility for attacks in recent months, though it is believed to still be active amid the wave of sectarian violence and insurgent attacks sweeping the country.