Two Italian Women Kidnapped in Iraq
A previously unknown Islamic group claiming links to an Al Qaeda leader took responsibility today for kidnapping two Italian aide workers who were seized from their home at gunpoint. A group calling itself the Al Zawahiri Loyalists said it had kidnapped the two Italian aide workers, Simona Pari and Simona Torretta, declared the women to be spies and promised to use them to “burn the hearts” of Italy’s prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, and of the Italian people. The group appears to be named for Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian physician who is believed to be the second-in-command of Al Qaeda, the terrorist group.
The group made no demand of Italy’s government, but instead said it intended to inflict punishment on Italy for basing troops in Iraq in support of the American-led enterprise here. The two women were kidnapped from their home on Tuesday, when a group of about 15 armed men surrounded their house, barged inside and dragged them screaming into a waiting convoy of three cars. Ms. Pari and Ms. Torretta both worked with an Italian relief group called “Bridges to Baghdad,” which provides health, water treatment and education to Iraqis.
The message was posted on a Web site called the Platform of the Sunni People, the same site on which a demand for $5 million for the release of two French hostages seized here was also placed earlier this week. The message was titled “Kidnapping of Italian female spies in Iraq is our first strike against Italy.”
Lovely. At some point, these stories will stop getting reported they’ll be so common.