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Report: New Iraq tape threatens death to council
( 2003-08-27 09:28) (Agencies)

An Arabic television station aired a videotaped warning from previously unheard-of Islamic groups in Iraq Tuesday threatening death to members of a U.S.-formed council and Iraqis who cooperate with U.S. troops.

"They formed this council to hurt the resistance (to occupation) and Iraqis. More than nine of its members do not have Iraqi nationality. Death to the spies and traitors, before the Americans," a masked man said on the tape, broadcast on Dubai-based Al Arabiya TV.

"Unfortunately, many Iraqis have got involved with them. We'll kill them first before we kill the Americans," he said, speaking in the name of three Iraqi groups: Islamic Jihad, Muslim Youth and the Iraqi Liberation Organization.

The U.S. administration in Iraq appointed an interim Governing Council after a U.S.-led war ousted former President Saddam Hussein in April.

The 25-member council began its work in July.

The man, standing surrounded by Kalashnikovs and rocket launchers, said the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad were bombed last week because of the world body's cooperation with Washington.

"What happened to the United Nations headquarters was because of U.N. policies which are loyal to the occupation forces sent to Iraq," he said, without claiming responsibility for the truck bombing, which killed at least 23 people.

Persistent guerrilla ambushes have led to calls for a wider U.N. role and more troops on the ground. The man on the tape urged the rest of the world not to send troops.

The man in the videotape also said an apparent assassination attempt on a leading Shi'ite cleric this week was a "terrorist attack" backed by the United States and its regional ally Israel which aimed to provoke sectarian strife among Iraqis.

In the holy city of Najaf, a bomb attack Sunday killed three bodyguards and wounded Ayatollah Mohammed Saeed al-Hakim, the uncle of the leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), one of Iraq's main Shi'ite groups.

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