DUBAI (AFP) – Al-Qaeda”s branch in Iraq, which has threatened to kill two Moroccan hostages, called on diplomats in Baghdad to "pack their bags and leave" or face certain death, according to an Internet statement.
"We reiterate our warning to those who insist on maintaining so-called diplomatic missions in Baghdad," said the statement whose authenticity could not be independently verified.
"Let them pack their bags and leave," said the statement signed by "the military wing of the Al-Qaeda Organisation in the Land of the Two Rivers," headed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
The statement accused Washington”s "small agents in the region," including the "treacherous Moroccan government" of maintaining diplomatic missions in Baghdad in order "to grant political and security backing that would provide legitimacy" to the Iraqi government.
The new warning was addressed "to those who still do not understand and challenge the will of the mujahedeen (fighters), and especially the missions of countries which have pledged to cooperate with the (Iraqi) apostate government installed by the invading Crusaders (US-led forces)."
"We will not spare any effort in tracking them down and punishing them, whoever they are and wherever they are, just as we have done with their predecessors," it said.
The group, considered the bloodiest of the insurgent groups in Iraq, has claimed responsibility for kidnapping and executing two Algerian diplomats and Egypt”s head of mission in Baghdad, Ihab al-Sherif, all abducted in July.
"And let them know that we do not make any difference between the head of the mission and the smallest employee as long as they have agreed to … back the criminal government of the (Shiites) and their American master," it said.
Moroccan embassy driver Abdelrahim Boualam and agent Abdelkrim El Mouhafidi went missing on October 20 while travelling on the treacherous highway between Amman and the Iraqi capital.
On Thursday, Zarqawi”s group said in a statement that they have decided to kill the two Moroccans after a "sharia (Islamic) court … decided that they were without doubt loyalists of the oppressors and elements of the apostate regime in Morocco."
The Iraqi government has said the abduction and killing of foreign envoys was aimed at undermining its legitimacy and has urged world governments to remain resolute in the face of the dangers of being posted in Baghdad.