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Iraqi Branch of Al-Qaida Claims Responsibility for Attacks on U.S. Forces

Iraqi Branch of Al-Qaida Claims Responsibility for Attacks on U.S. Forces

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CAIRO, Egypt (AP) -- A group claiming to be an Iraqi branch of al-Qaida said it is behind recent attacks on U.S. forces -- not Saddam Hussein -- according to a videotape aired on an Arab TV station Sunday. The tape couldn't be immediately verified.

Al-Arabiya, a satellite station based in Dubai, aired the 4-minute video showing a black-and-white still photograph of an unidentified man dressed like an Islamic cleric in a robe and white turban. He has a long white beard, also typical of Islamic clerics.

A distorted male voice reads a message warning American forces to "leave Iraq's territories and to live up to their promises."

The voice describes himself as a member of the "Islamic Armed Group of al-Qaida, Fallujah branch." He says his group is behind the attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq.

"By God, not one of (Saddam's) followers carried out any of the Jihadi (holy war) operations like he claims," the voice said, saying "our Mujahedeen brothers" did instead.

The voice promised more attacks: "The coming days ... will show you the strike that will break America's back."

The claim is the first by a purported Iraqi group linking itself to Osama bin Laden's terrorist network.

An executive from the station had no details on the man pictured in the video, which was delivered recently to the station's Baghdad office,

U.S. forces in Iraq have been targeted daily by ambushes, and dozens have died, including in Fallujah, an especially restive city west of Baghad.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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