Iraqi Militant Group Denies Killing U.S. Hostage
An Islamic extremist group denied it beheaded a U.S. Marine taken hostage in Iraq last month, the Associated Press reported, citing a message posted on the group’s Web site.
The fate of Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun, an American of Lebanese descent, has not been determined, the AP said. A group calling itself the Ansar al-Sunna Army posted the statement on its Web site after two other extremist groups made declarations in their name saying Hassoun had been killed.
“In order to maintain our credibility in all issues we declare that this statement that was attributed to us has no basis of truth,” the AP quoted the statement as saying. “Any statement that is not issued through our site doesn’t represent us.”
On its own Web site the Army of Ansar al-Sunna branded as false a statement in its name, which appeared on two Islamic Web sites Saturday, announcing that 24-year-old corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun, of Lebanese origin, had been beheaded. “This statement that claimed to be from us has no basis in truth … and we have an official Web site through which we publish statements,” Ansar said in a statement posted on a new Internet address for the group. Its previous site appeared to have been shut down. However, the group said it believed that killing “such filth brings one closer to God.”
Ansar has vowed to go on attacking Iraqi officials and U.S.-led foreign forces, despite last week’s handover to an interim Iraqi government, until “God’s law” prevails in Iraq.
The original claim of having kidnapped the Marine was issued in the name of “Islamic Response,” the security wing of the “National Islamic Resistance – 1920 Revolution Brigades,” rather than the Ansar al-Sunna Army.
See Marine Wassef Ali Hassoun Beheaded, Terrorists Claim for the back story.
UPDATE: SMH (Australia) Lebanese confirm death of captured marine
Lebanese Foreign Ministry sources say they can confirm the death of a US marine whom Islamic militants said they had beheaded.
There was no immediate confirmation from the US military. “We don’t have anything and the marines don’t have anything,” a military spokesman said.
Lebanon’s consul in Baghdad, Hassan Hijazi, told the ministry on Saturday that Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun, an American of Lebanese origin, had been killed, the Foreign Ministry sources said. Mr Hijazi did not know when the killing took place and the sources did not explain how he had confirmed the death of Corporal Hassoun, who has been missing for a fortnight.