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Al Qaeda Group Says Missing GIs Are Dead

Al Qaeda-linked insurgents killed three American soldiers after capturing them last month in Iraq, according to a militant video released Monday that claimed to show footage of the ambush. The video offered no proof for its claims.

The clip, which was made available to The Associated Press by the Washington-based SITE Institute, showed confused and jerky night battle scenes, and later offered close-ups of two identification cards. It did not show the soldiers.

"The Americans sent 4,000 soldiers looking for them," said an unidentified voice on the video, which was made available to The Associated Press by the Washington-based SITE, which monitors terrorist groups. "They were alive and then dead."

The video offered no proof for its claims that the soldiers had been killed and buried. The voiceover blamed their deaths on "the American Army and their leaders, who do not care for the feelings of the soldiers' families."

The U.S. military said Monday that the search for two missing American soldiers will continue despite a militant's video and it held out hope they "will be found alive and in good health."

The body of one of the soldiers later was found in Iraq's Euphrates River, but the other two remain missing. Family friends of the missing men said the U.S. military briefed relatives about the video over the weekend.

At the end of the 10-minute 41-second video, the identification cards of the two missing soldiers were shown, with the headline: "Bush is the reason of the loss of your POWs" written on the screen above the cards. SITE did not say how it obtained the video, which featured the logo of the media production house of the Islamic State of Iraq.

Along with the identification cards, the footage also showed credit cards, American and Iraqi money and other personal items that the militants called "booty."

The video also showed footage, apparently taken before the ambush, of three masked men standing around a stand displaying a sketch of the area, mapping out the attack plan. One of the three men, who were all dressed in black, talked to the camera and pointed to the sketch. Another stood by him carrying a gun.

"I have urged you to bring me American prisoners," said the man, whose name was not given but was identified as one of the militant group's leaders.

"Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families of our missing," said Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner, the chief military spokesman in Baghdad. "We condemn the tactics used by these terrorists, and are using all means available to pursue those responsible."

"We are further analyzing the video, however it doesn't appear to contain any definitive evidence indicating the status of our missing soldiers," he added. "We continue to search and hope that our two missing soldiers will be found alive and in good health."

In Washington, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said he had not seen any video but heard there were "promises made that a video may be released."

The body of one of the soldiers was found on May 23 in the Euphrates River and later identified by the U.S. military as Pfc. Joseph Anzack Jr., 20, of Torrance, Calif. The missing soldiers have been identified as Spc. Alex R. Jimenez, 25, of Lawrence, Mass., and Pvt. Byron W. Fouty, 19, of Waterford Township, Mich.

The army was able to warn the families this weekend that the tape could surface and would claim the soldiers are dead, reports CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan.

"From what I hear, it shows the soldier's uniforms and dog tags and warns the U.S. to back off on the search," said Cathy Conger, a family friend of Fouty.

"What it does not show one way or another is if they're alive or not," Conger said. "I just feel really bad about it. I hope that he's still alive. My prayers are with him."

Fouty's stepfather, Gordon Dibler of Oxford, Michigan, told a suburban Detroit radio station that the military told him Saturday that the video showed personal identification items from the soldiers.

"They prepared me in a very proper and considerate way," he told WWJ-AM radio.

In Massachusetts, the Jimenez family had not seen the video Monday, said family friend Wendy Luzon, who spoke with Jimenez's father, Ramon "Andy" Jimenez.

"He said it was a good sign for the family," Luzon said.

In other developments:

  • At the opening of a police academy in western al-Anbar province, America's top commander in Iraq told Logan that the shortage of soldiers before the surge had allowed safe havens for terrorists and militias to develop. "Our soldiers are going in and taking back from the enemy some of these sanctuaries and the enemy is gonna fight," General David Petraeus said.
  • Three months after the start of President Bush's troop buildup in Iraq, the operation has fallen far short of its initial goal to reclaim control of Baghdad neighborhoods, according to a report in Monday's New York Times. Citing an internal U.S. military assessment completed in late May, the Times said American and Iraqi forces are able to "protect the population" and "maintain physical influence" over less than one-third of the capital's 457 neighborhoods.
  • The U.S. military announced Sunday that 14 American soldiers had been killed over the three previous days, including four in a single roadside bombing and another who was struck by a suicide bomber while on a foot patrol.
  • Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul told European Union officials visiting Ankara that "we have every right to take measures against terrorist activities directed at us from northern Iraq," he said during a news conference after news that three soldiers were killed in a suicide bombing of a military outpost in southern Turkey.
  • Gunmen at a fake checkpoint in Baqouba, 35 miles north of Baghdad, killed two passengers and wounded eight others when they opened fire on three minibuses that sought to flee from the highway trap.
  • At least 73 other Iraqis were killed or found dead nationwide, including 31 bullet-riddled bodies of men who were apparent victims of death squads usually believed to be run by Shiite militias.
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