Iraq Kidnappers Say Diplo Is Dead

An undated picture released Sunday July 3, 2005 by the family, of Egypt's ambassador to Iraq, Ihab al-Sherif, who was kidnapped late Saturday July 2, 2005, in Baghdad, the Iraqi capital. Egypt's top envoy has been kidnapped in Baghdad just weeks after arriving in the war-torn country, Egyptian diplomats said Sunday .
Al Qaeda in Iraq said in a Web statement Thursday that it has killed Egypt's top envoy in Iraq, posting a video of the blindfolded diplomat identifying himself.

"We announce in the al Qaeda in Iraq that the verdict of God against the ambassador of the infidels, the ambassador of Egypt, has been carried out. Thank God," a written statement in the Web posting said.

The video does not show the envoy, Ihab al-Sherif, being killed.

Al Qaeda in Iraq, headed by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, said a day earlier that it had sentenced al-Sherif to death as an "apostate" for his country's support of the United States and the Iraqi government. The group has previously beheaded several foreign hostages, including three Americans.

Al-Sherif, who was sent to Baghdad in early June, was abducted from a Baghdad street late Saturday.

The video shows a man who appears to be the diplomat, blindfolded and wearing a polo shirt. He identifies himself as al-Sherif, says he is the head of the interests section in Iraq and gives his address. He then says he worked previously in Israel, where al-Sherif was part of the Egyptian embassy.

The claim's authenticity could not immediately be confirmed. Egyptian Foreign Ministry officials could not be immediately reached.

In related developments:

  • Eleven people were killed and 19 injured in a pair of car bombings in a town south of Baghdad. Police say one bomb went off at a car dealership, and the second went off at the entrance to the town of Jbala about a half-hour later. Police also report a car bomb explosion in the city of Kirkuk. They say one person was killed and another wounded - and that they apparently were rigging the car with explosives when the bomb went off prematurely.
  • Four Iraqi policemen were killed Wednesday and at least nine more wounded in separate attacks by insurgents in Baghdad.
  • The U.S. military said Wednesday it is holding five U.S. citizens suspected of insurgent activities in Iraq. They were captured separately and don't appear to have ties to one another, a Pentagon spokesman said. He declined to identify them, citing a Pentagon policy that prohibits identification of detainees.
  • A U.S. senator who criticized President Bush's Iraq policy at recent congressional hearings was in Baghdad for meetings with politicians, officials said. Sen. Carl Levin, the Senate Armed Services Committee's senior Democrat, was accompanied by several members of his staff.

    Last month, the Egyptian government said it would upgrade its mission in Iraq to full embassy status headed by an ambassador, which would have made al-Sherif the first Arab ambassador to Iraq's new government — although the move had not yet been officially made.