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Hostage slaying videos similar


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Nicholas Berg, left, and Kim Sun-il appear on videos taken by their captors.
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CNN's Christiane Amanpour reports on the killing of the South Korean hostage.

South Korean man held hostage in Iraq.

CNN's Brian Todd looks at beheading as a tool of terrorist propaganda.
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(CNN) -- There are striking similarities seen on the videotape of the South Korean hostage whose body was found Tuesday in Iraq and the videotaped execution of U.S. hostage Nicholas Berg in May.

The group that claims responsibility for beheading Kim Sun-il also claims to be the same group that killed Berg.

Although U.S. officials indicated that fugitive Islamic militant leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was behind the Berg killing, one U.S. official said it is not yet known whether al-Zarqawi played a role in Kim's death.

Video of the final moments of Kim's life aired on the Arabic-language television network Al-Jazeera Tuesday.

The images showed a scene similar to the setting just before Berg was beheaded.

Kim was blindfolded and kneeling in front of several armed, masked men. One of the captors read a statement, and then the South Korean man is beheaded. (Full story)

Kim, Berg and Paul Johnson -- who was beheaded last week by his captors in Saudi Arabia -- were all wearing orange jumpsuits similar to those worn by detainees at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Though Al-Jazeera broadcast the videotape showing Berg's beheading, an anchor for the network said Tuesday that it chose not to air a videotape showing Kim's execution "out of respect for the viewers' feelings."

In May, a CIA official said that a technical analysis of the videotape of the killing concluded with "high probability" that al-Zarqawi is the hooded speaker on the video shown decapitating Berg, although the narrator on the tape did not mention his name.

However, CNN Arabic linguists familiar with al-Zarqawi's voice questioned whether the person on the latest recording of Kim's death was the 37-year-old Jordanian, noting that the voice did not have a Jordanian accent.

Group claims killings and bombings

A banner hanging behind the hooded captors, in video shot just before Kim is killed, shows the name "Unity and Jihad," and the man who reads a statement on the tape identifies the group by the same name.

In statements on Islamist Web sites with links to al Qaeda, the group has signed itself with "Unity and Jihad" and the name of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whom the group calls its "emir."

In the statement read on the videotape released Tuesday, a masked man says the Unity and Jihad group is responsible for the beheading of Berg and for several attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq.

The man also said the group committed an attack against the Turkish Embassy in Baghdad. There was a suicide bombing in front of that embassy in October. Only the suspected bomber was killed.

An author claiming to be al-Zarqawi promises he will soon release a CD showing details of the group's "victorious" attacks it has been carrying out against coalition forces in Iraq, according to a statement appearing on several Islamist Web sites a few days ago.

The statement also praised as a martyr a Kuwaiti friend of al-Zarqawi, whom the writer says was killed in a recent attack.

In the statement the group released in May concerning its killing of Berg, the title of the missive said that al-Zarqawi himself beheaded the young man.

The U.S. government contends that al-Zarqawi -- who has a $10 million reward on his head -- has a long-standing connection to al Qaeda and is a close associate of that group's leader, Osama bin Laden.

He is also accused of organizing terrorists to fight U.S. troops in Iraq on behalf of al Qaeda and is believed to have plotted the 2002 killing of U.S. diplomat Laurence Foley, who was gunned down outside his home in Jordan.

CNNArabic.com Editor Caroline Faraj in Dubai, National Security Correspondent David Ensor and Producer Pam Benson contributed to this report


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