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Iraq Transition

Purported Iraq al Qaeda tape to U.S.: Jihad not over

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A purported audio recording by the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq vows to step up the group's fight against the United States, saying, "We haven't had enough of your blood yet."

The recording was posted Friday on an Islamist Web site and the speaker is identified as Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, successor to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Al-Muhajer is also known as Abu Ayyub al-Masri.

"Come down to the battlefield, you coward," the speaker says on the recording, which CNN cannot independently confirm as the voice of al-Muhajer.

Calling President Bush a "lame duck" the speaker tells Bush not to "run away as your lame defense secretary ran away," referring to Donald Rumsfeld, who resigned Wednesday.

Critics of the U.S.-led war in Iraq have placed much of the blame for its problems on Rumsfeld. The war's growing unpopularity contributed to toppling the majority Republican Party in both chambers of Congress in Tuesday's election. (Watch Rumsfeld acknowledge what's going wrong -- 2:23)

Much of the Iraqi insurgency has been blamed on al Qaeda in Iraq, whose former chief al-Zarqawi was killed in a U.S.-led airstrike in June.

The speaker on the tape vows that al Qaeda in Iraq will not stop its jihad "until we sit under the olive trees in Rumiya after we blow up the wicked house known as the White House." He says the first phase of the jihad is now over, and that the next phase -- building an Islamic nation -- has begun.

"The victory day has come faster than we expected," he says. "Here is the Islamic nation in Iraq victorious against the tyrant. The enemy is incapable of fighting on and has no choice but to run away."

The speaker claims his al Qaeda army has 12,000 soldiers -- with 10,000 more waiting in the wings to join them.

And he pledges those troops to the service of the Mujahedeen Shura Council and the Islamic Nation of Iraq. He calls on other insurgent groups in Iraq to join with them.

"We have to be unified by the sword, even though disagreements exist between us," al-Muhajer said.

"Go where God has ordered you to go and know that we are with you. We are your soldiers and your men," he says.

Suicide bomb kills 6 Iraqi soldiers

Six Iraqi soldiers, including a battalion commander, were killed Friday when a suicide car bomb exploded at a checkpoint in Tal Afar, a town near Mosul about 250 miles north of Baghdad.

The six killed included Col. Abdul Karim Jassim, commander of Iraqi Army's 3rd battalion. The blast also wounded at least 14 people, including 10 Iraqi soldiers.

The deadly attack came after Iraqi forces announced a series of raids, including the capture of a man suspected of organizing terror attacks in Baghdad.

Abu Zaid al-Suri, also known as Abu Zaid the Syrian, was arrested in Rawa, a city about 270 kilometers northwest of Baghdad in Anbar province, Iraqi Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammed al-Askari told CNN.

Al-Suri is believed to be one of al Qaeda's leaders in Iraq, al-Askari said. Al-Suri was arrested along with nine other suspected terrorists during an Iraqi army operation in which a large quantity of weapons was confiscated, al-Askari said.

Two suspected terrorists were killed in a separate Iraqi army operation in Rawa city, officials said. The two were identified as Abu Muhayyam al-Masri, also known as Abu Muhayyam the Egyptian, Amir (prince) of al Qaeda organization in Rawa and his aide Abu Issam al-Libi, also known as Abu Issam the Libyan, al-Askari said.

Iraqi soldiers also apprehended four suspected terrorists in Tikrit on Thursday, the U.S. military said. An arms cache also was seized during the operation southeast of Kan'an, the military said.

The arrests and seizure were made by Iraqi soldiers, the U.S. military said. The arms cache included nearly 100 rounds of machine gun ammunition, six rocket propelled grenades, five grenades, bomb making materials, anti-Iraqi propaganda and three stolen cars, the military reported.

Four U.S. troops killed

Three U.S. soldiers and a Marine died Thursday in Iraq, the U.S. military announced Friday, putting the number of U.S. troop deaths in November at 25.

The Marine died from wounds sustained due to "enemy action" during operations in Anbar province, the military said. The Marine was assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5.

Two soldiers were killed and a third was wounded Thursday when their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb west of Baghdad, the military said. They were assigned to 89th Military Police Brigade.

Also Thursday, a soldier assigned to the 13th Sustainment Command was killed and another was wounded during a patrol when their truck was hit by a roadside bomb west of Haditha, the military said.

The deaths bring the number of U.S. military personnel killed during the Iraq war to 2,843, including seven civilian contractors who were working for the military.

Other developments

  • President Bush announced Friday that Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham, who was killed in April 2004 in Iraq, will posthumously receive the Medal of Honor. Dunham threw himself on a grenade after an ambush on a Marine convoy, saving the lives of several members of his unit. (Full story)
  • Bush will meet Monday with members of the Iraq Study Group, a panel created to assess the situation in Iraq and offer suggestions and advice, White House press secretary Tony Snow said Friday. (Full story)
  • In Baghdad, the Central Criminal Court of Iraq convicted 23 people between October 27 and November 1 on a variety of charges including possessing illegal weapons, possessing false civil affairs ID and false military identifications, identity theft, involvement in armed groups and illegal border crossing, the U.S. military said Thursday. Among those convicted was a Saudi Arabian man sentenced to death after being found guilty of illegally entering Iraq to fight against government forces. Two Iraqi men found guilty of possession of illegal weapons were sentenced to 30 years in prison, the military said.
  • CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.


    story.almasri.gi.afp.jpg

    CNN can't independently confirm that the recording is al Qaeda in Iraq chief Abu Hamza al-Muhajer.

      RELATED

        ABU HAMZA AL-MUHAJER

      • Terrorist since 1982
      • First involved with Egyptian Islamic Jihad, led by Ayman al-Zawahiri
      • Traveled to Afghanistan in 1999 for training
      • Expert in explosives, particularly car bombs
      • Arrived in Iraq after fall of Taliban
      • Worked with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Falluja
      • Became 'emir of southern Iraq' for al Qaeda in Iraq
      • Aided foreign fighters to conduct attacks in Baghdad

        Source: U.S. military
      • SPECIAL REPORT

        • Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
        • Interactive: Sectarian divide
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