Iraq: Al-Qaeda leader calls for Sunnis to unite against US troops

Baghdad, 15 April (AKI) - The leader of an al-Qaeda cell in Iraq has called on Sunni tribal leaders to abandon US-backed militias battling al-Qaeda and to rejoin the insurgency.

In an audio recording released on Islamic forums on the Internet on Tuesday, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, who leads the Islamic State of Iraq, called on Sunnis in the Iraqi army, police and the so-called Awakening Councils to return to al-Qaeda and fight against US forces in the country.

The Awakening Councils are US-allied Sunni militia movements fighting al-Qaeda in Iraq.

"Five years have passed since we began the blessed Jihad against you, and we are still here to fight," said al-Baghdadi on the audio message.

The 30-minute audio tape is said to have been released to mark the fifth anniversary of Baghdad's capture by American forces on 9 April 2003.

The United States has reportedly described al-Baghdadi, as a fictitious character, used to give an Iraqi face to an organisation dominated by foreigner al-Qaeda fighters.

In his message, al-Baghdadi addressed Sunni tribal leaders who had decided to align themselves with the Iraqi government of prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.

"How many of their men are currently detained in the jails of the Islamic State of Iraq or al-Qaeda and how many of your men are detained in the jails of the American forces and of the Iraqi government?" he said.

He also asked why the Sunni tribes "signed a ceasefire with the Sadrist Shia militias" and continue "to fight against us who are Sunnis".

He urged members of the so-Called Awakening Councils to join al-Qaeda and unite its forces against the US troops.

Established in 2006, the Islamic State of Iraq is an umbrella organisation comprised of several radical insurgency groups .

It aims to establish a caliphate in the Sunni Arab dominated regions of Iraq.


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