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Video Shows al-Zarqawi Fumbling With Rifle

At least 20 people were killed across the country Thursday, including two American soldiers who died in a roadside bombing in Baghdad. Ten people were killed in a suicide attack at a court building in eastern Baghdad, police said, and the military said U.S. troops killed eight insurgents in a gunfight in Ramadi.

It was unclear at first whether the newly released outtakes would reach a broad Arab audience after Iraqi state television didn't begin airing some of them until 1 a.m. Friday. But the station continued to show portions of the video during the day Friday, and it also turned up on pan-Arab satellite TV Al-Arabiya.

The previously posted al-Qaida footage, in which al-Zarqawi pledged his allegiance to Osama bin Laden and mocked the U.S., was widely transmitted by Arab satellite stations.

American military officials said the new clips were released to Arab media but too late for many evening newscasts. By late Thursday evening, the stations had yet to air the material.

U.S. authorities have used selective leaks in the past to discredit al-Zarqawi but with uncertain success. The Pentagon was embarrassed in December when reports surfaced that it had paid Iraqi newspapers to publish propaganda stories.

In October, the U.S. released a letter purportedly from bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, urging al-Zarqawi to expand his operations into neighboring Muslim countries. Al-Qaida claimed the letter was fake.

The Army Times newspaper reported this week that American special operations troops "came within a couple of city blocks" of capturing al-Zarqawi in a raid in Youssifiyah in mid-April.

The raid was carried out by the secret Task Force 145, made up of Army Delta Force, Rangers, Navy SEALs and British Special Air Service paratroopers, the newspaper said.

While the military steps up its hunt for al-Zarqawi, U.S. diplomats are making overtures to other Sunni insurgent groups. They hope to persuade those groups to lay down their arms and support the new national unity government, which Washington believes has the best chance of calming sectarian tensions, weakening the insurgency and allowing U.S. and other international troops to leave.

The Americans have made no overtures to Islamic extremists such as al-Qaida in Iraq and Saddam Hussein loyalists, U.S. diplomats have said.

In a bid to counter the U.S. efforts, Sunni militants have targeted Sunnis who cooperate with the government, including Iraqi army and police. A suicide bomber killed two policemen and 13 police recruits Wednesday in the Sunni city of Fallujah.

The day before, 10 people died when a suicide driver detonated his vehicle alongside the convoy of the Sunni governor of Anbar province, although the official escaped serious injury.

On Thursday, 10 people were killed and 52 injured in the suicide bombing at a court in a mixed Shiite-Sunni area of eastern Baghdad, police said.

Lynch cited such attacks as part of al-Zarqawi's campaign of triggering full-scale civil war between Shiites and Sunnis: "He's been told by his leadership that democracy equals failure for Zarqawi in Iraq."


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© 2006 The Associated Press