Kidnappers of Egypt's top diplomat threaten to kill him

Kidnappers of Egypt's top diplomat threaten to kill him for apostasy. Iraq's al-Qaida group posted Web pictures of identification cards of Egypt's top envoy to Iraq on Wednesday as proof it had kidnapped the Arab diplomat, reports Reuters.

The group claims, Egypt has allied with "the Jews and Christians," says the AP.

The statement of the group led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was posted on its Website. It said Al-Qaida's religious court had decided to hand over Ihab al-Sherif, who was seized in Baghdad on Saturday, to its fighters "to carry out the punishment of apostasy against him." Under Islam, apostasy, or changing religion, is punishable by death.

"The sharia court of the Al-Qaida in Iraq organization has decided to transfer the apostate ambassador of Egypt, which has allied itself to the Jews and Christians, to the mujahedeen to carry out the punishment of apostasy against him.," the statement said.

Growing violence in Iraq makes Arab countries withdraw their envoys. The reputed leader of al-Qaida in Iraq said the country's security forces are as great an enemy as the Americans and brushed aside calls to abandon the insurgency.

On Tuesday, gunmen fired at diplomats from Bahrain and Pakistan in what officials suspected were kidnap attempts aimed at isolating Iraq's U.S.-backed government in the Islamic world.

"These embassies are nothing but observation posts to hunt down the foreign mujahedeen by following them, standing in their way and preventing them from communicating with the brothers of jihad and faith in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere," the Web statement said.

In a strong condemnation of Egypt, the statement said rebel fighters "have never seen interrogators any meaner and more hurtful than the officers of the Egyptian intelligence in the Abu Ghraib prison, Camp Bucca and the detention centers in the Baghdad International Airport."

"The time has come for us to avenge our brothers and our Islam from the Egyptian idol and his followers," it added. "We thank God for enabling us to capture one of the leaders of nonbelievers, the ambassador of Egypt, Ihab al-Sharif, who used to work at the Egyptian Embassy in the Jewish state. This is your fate, oh ambassadors of the nations of idols."

Photo: AP

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