Ansar al-Islam denies role in UN bombing
* Warns US and Britain against more attacks
* Says agencies got it wrong
ROME: Militant group Ansar al-Islam said on Sunday it was not behind the bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, but warned the United States and Britain that they could face fresh attacks.
US officials have named Ansar as a suspect in last week’s truck bombing — the most devastating attack on a UN complex in the world bodyy’s 58-year history. The blast killed 24 people, including the UN’s top envoy in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello.
“It wasn’t Ansar al-Islam... The Pentagon and CIA have got it wrong,” the group’s Iraqi Kurdish founder, Mullah Krekar, told Italian newspaper La Repubblica in an interview.
“I think it was rather an operation born inside the country and carried out by Saddam’s faithful,” he said, speaking from the Norwegian capital Oslo where he has had refugee status since 1991. He denies any links to terror activities.
Washington accuses Ansar al-Islam, which Krekar led from December 2001 to May 2002, of “close links to and support from” Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network.
As well as the UN blast, Pentagon officials have identified Ansar Al-Islam as a possible suspect behind the bombing at the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad on August 7 that killed 17 people.
This week, Army Gen John Abizaid, the head of US Central Command, said the group had been homing in on Baghdad and increasing their operations.
“We think they’ve migrated from the north down into Baghdad, and we think that they’re established there. It’s not good for us when they get established in an urban area,” he said.
The day after US President George W Bush promised “the world would not be intimidated” by terror, Krekar warned the United States of more attacks at home and abroad.
“America runs the risk of new attacks if it doesn’t concede space to Islam. Not only in Iraq, but in its own back yard,” he said, noting how much a recent power blackout which hit seven US states had cost the American economy.
When asked if any other country should fear an attack, Krekar fired a warning shot at British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the United States throughout the Iraq war.
“In Europe no-one apart from Britain... In Europe the true spokesman of Bush, in fact probably harsher than him, is Blair.” —Reuters