An al-Qaida-linked group posted a Web video Saturday purporting to show the
bodies of two American soldiers being dragged behind a truck, then set on fire
in apparent retaliation for the alleged rape-slaying of a young Iraqi woman by
U.S. troops from the same unit.
The Mujahedeen Shura Council - an umbrella organization of insurgent groups,
including al-Qaida in Iraq - posted a previous video in June showing the
soldiers' mutilated bodies, and claiming it killed them. It was not clear
whether Saturday's video was a continuation of that footage, or why it was
The new footage came hours after the posting of another al-Qaida video, an
apparent re-release of a tape showing the execution of a Turkish hostage - by
the man purported to be the new leader of Al-Qaida in Iraq.
The images would be the first of Abu Ayyub al-Masri to be released since the
group announced that he had succeeded Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed by a
U.S. airstrike in Iraq on June 7.
Both videos appeared just as Sunni Arabs in Iraq began Ramadan, the Islamic
holy month. U.S. officials have warned that attacks could intensify during
It was impossible to identify the bodies in the second video, but it was
believed to show Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, and Pfc. Thomas Tucker, 25, who
went missing after being attacked by insurgents on June 16 at a checkpoint south
of Baghdad. Their remains were found three days later, and the U.S. military
said they had been mutilated.
The video showed masked men dragging the corpses and later setting them on
fire. Below the graphic footage is a subtitle: "The two soldiers belong to the
same brigade of the soldier who raped our sister in Mahmoudiya."
The U.S military has charged four soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division ¡ª
Spc. James P. Barker, Sgt. Paul E. Cortez, Pfc. Jesse V. Spielman and Pfc. Bryan
L. Howard - in the March 12 alleged rape and murder of 14-year-old Abeer Qassim
al-Janabi in Mahmoudiya, about 20 miles south of Baghdad. Sgt. Anthony W. Yribe
is accused of failing to report the attack but is not alleged to have been a
A fifth suspect, Pfc. Steven D. Green, was discharged from the army because
of a "personality disorder" before the allegations became known. He has pleaded
not guilty to rape and murder charges and is being held in a civilian court in
the United States.
Mahmoudiya is an extremely violent region in Iraq in an area known as the
"triangle of death" for the numerous attacks by insurgents.
The two slain soldiers also were from the 101st Airborne Division.
The video of the Turkish hostage first appeared on Aug. 2, 2004. It shows
what has since then become an iconic scene of violence in Iraq - three masked
men standing behind a hostage seated on the ground.
The militant in the middle, identified in the latest Web posting as al-Masri,
reads a statement in Arabic, and then the hostage, Murad Yucer from Ankara,
reads a statement in Turkish. After Yucer finishes, al-Masri shoots him three
times in the head.
The scarves make it impossible to identify the three militants. However, a
statement posted alongside the video says the execution was performed by Abu
Hamza al-Muhajer, al-Masri's militant name.
Al-Masri, a Sunni Muslim, has been relatively silent since taking over
control of al-Qaida in Iraq - a sharp contrast with al-Zarqawi, who frequently
issued audiotapes and even a videotape that showed his face a few weeks before
he was killed.