The leader of al Qaeda in Iraq has purportedly appeared in video as the executioner of a Turkish hostage — making his first appearance since taking over the group in June — according to a statement posted with the recording on the Internet.
The items were posted Friday night just after Iraq announced that Ramadan would begin Saturday. The statement said the recording, the authenticity of which could not be independently verified, was "old," but gave no other indication about when it was made.
Three men masked in red and white scarves stand behind the hostage who is seated on the ground wearing a tan shirt.
The man in the middle, identified by the accompanying statement as al-Masri, criticizes companies and people working with the U.S. military. "Although we have urged Muslims around the world and in Turkey, in particular, ... they insist, including this apostate," al-Masri said in Arabic, reading from a piece of paper.
The hostage reading from a statement in Turkish, translated into Arabic by subtitles, identifies himself as Murad Buger, an employee of a Turkish company subcontracting for a Jordanian company that provides services to U.S. military bases.
"I have seen the injustice of the Americans with my own eyes but I stayed for few dollars," Buger says, adding, "torture is intensifying in Abu Ghraib (prison)."
He then urges Turkish companies to withdraw from Iraq.
Al-Masri then shoots Buger in the head three times.
The militants, those flanking al-Masri bearing automatic weapons, stand in front of a blank banner declaring "There is no God but God" and depicting the symbol of the sun, which often appears in al Qaeda in Iraq videos. But the masked men block from view most of the inscription written on the cloth banner.
Executions shown in militant videotapes are usually performed by slitting the throat. The scarves completely obscure the militants' faces, however the statement accompanying the recording, posted on a Web site regularly used by Islamist militants, says that al-Masri performed the execution.