BAGHDAD, (AP) – Al-Qaeda’s umbrella group in Iraq threatened to kidnap family members of Iraqi politicians and ministers unless the wife and children of its slain leader are released from prison.
The Islamic State of Iraq, as the terror network’s affiliate is known, said in a statement on Tuesday that it will kidnap “wives, daughters and sons” of Iraqi politicians and ministers unless the family of Abu Ayyub al-Masri, is freed.
Tuesday’s statement was posted on militant websites, listing suggestions it said would help free Muslim women from Iraqi jails, including the wife and children of “our leader who sacrificed his blood … defending the faith.”
Among the actions was “kidnapping wives and daughters and sons of officials in Iraq, including (those) of political leaders and ministers” to offer them in exchange for “our prisoners,” the statement said.
The statement purported that al-Masri’s wife and children have been in custody since the joint U.S.-Iraqi air and ground assault near Saddam Hussein’s hometown Tikrit in April that killed al-Masri along with another prominent militant of al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Authorities have reported their detention but there has been no word on their whereabouts since.
After al-Masri’s death, the group named a new emir — or leader — Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi al-Husseini al-Qurashi.
The threat comes two days after Iraqi authorities announced they’ve broken up a Baghdad cell of the Islamic State of Iraq, and charged at least two of its members with orchestrating a series of bombings on foreign embassies in the capital.
The cell also coordinated a July bombing against the offices of Arabic-language news channel Al-Arabiya that killed six people, and another at an AsiaCell mobile telephone store last month, military spokesman Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi said on Sunday.
Al-Moussawi showed videotaped confessions of two of the men, and said they led authorities to at least four other terror suspects. One of the men, identified as Sinan Abid Humod al-Janabi, described himself as an operative for the terror network’s car-bombing sector in western Baghdad.