BAGHDAD // An al Qa'eda-linked militant group named a new "war minister" in Iraq and threatened majority Shi'ites with "dark days coloured in blood", after two of its commanders were killed by US and Iraqi forces. Attacks that have left dozens dead in the past weeks were seen as al Qa'eda in Iraq's response to the killing in May of its leader Abu Ayyub al Masri, also known as Abu Hamza al Muhajir, and Abu Omar al Baghdadi, the purported head of its affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI).
The al Qa'eda statement, posted on Islamist internet forums today, identified the new ISI war minister as al Nasser Lideen Allah Abu Suleiman, who replaced al Masri. Abu Suleiman declared the launch of a new campaign against Iraq's military and police as well as the country's majority Shi'ites in revenge for the death of al Qa'eda in Iraq's leaders and what he called abuse of Sunni Muslims in Iraqi prisons.
"How can the men of the state close their eyes while they see ... (Shi'ites) transgressing against the people of Islam, men and women, in the prisons of the apostates in Baghdad, Mosul, and Diyala," Abu Suleiman said in the statement. "The matter has become unbearable, patience has run out ... We named this invasion, 'The Attack of the Monotheists in Revenge for Honours in the Prisons of Apostates'." He said ISI would deliver "a long gloomy night and dark days coloured in blood" to Shi'ites.
Overall violence in Iraq has dropped sharply since the height of sectarian carnage in 2006-07, but bombings are still common and an election that produced no outright winner has fuelled tensions. * AP