A Terrorist's Tale of the Tape

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A CD featuring video testimonials of six alleged suicide bombers offers a new insight into who is behind a growing number of deadly attacks in Iraq. TIME has viewed a copy of the disc, which appears aimed at recruiting young men and encouraging resistance against Western and affiliated targets in Iraq. The pictures and sound present harrowing details of attacks against U.S. forces and their allies as well as  ideological rants aimed at the "enemies of Islam." In dramatic footage, six men who are believed to have subsequently carried out suicide attacks talk about their plans and reasons for fighting. Significantly, several of the men appear to be foreigners, evidence that the insurgency may be drawing fighters from outside Iraq.

The testimonies are contained on a CD produced by the group Jaish Ansar al-Sunni, which Iraqi insurgent sources say has close ties to Ansar al-Islam, a terror affiliate of al-Qaeda that American officials accuse of multiple attacks across Iraq on Western and Iraqi targets. Five of the incidents described on the disc take place in or near the northern Iraqi cities of Mosul, Kirkuk and Erbil. This last city was the scene of two more suicide attacks Sunday morning, when at least 56 people were killed and 235 wounded in an assault on the offices of U.S.-backed Kurdish parties.

The video opens set against a mountainous backdrop with religious chanting and fluttering flags. Footage shows U.S. forces arresting Iraqis, with civilians diving for cover or, bleeding, being helped away to seek medical care. An unknown voice then introduces the goals of Jaish Ansar Al Sunni and makes clear that Iraqi religious fundamentalists direct the armed organization. The voice speaks of a desire to defeat the American "infidels," but also to set up an Islamic state not controlled by "treacherous agents" loyal to the United States and Israel.

Halfway through the 35-min. CD, six young men, alleged to have subsequently carried out "martyrdom missions," begin testimonials. Each explains his reasons for wanting to become a martyr. Some ask God for acceptance into heaven and others say they are also fighting for Palestine against American and Jewish aggression. Three of the six men speak with a noticeably non-Iraqi accent, according to Iraqi and foreign journalists who have also seen the tape. Sources within the Iraqi insurgency tell TIME that a Syrian, a Saudi and a Yemeni were among the alleged suicide bombers. The source, also described how Iraqi insurgents act as guides for the foreigners as they set up the attacks.

The first to speak on the tape is a man identified as "Burwa, the Kurd" Written subscripts on the footage allege that he launched an attack on July 22, 2003 in Mosul against U.S. forces. Five more attackers, most sitting cross-legged and facing the camera, praise martyrdom and attacks in September, October, November and December of last year.

On the CD each alleged bomber makes a statement announcing his intention, but without naming the specific target. Abu Thabet al-Muhajer believed to have carried out an attack last December 9th in Ninevah province, vows to continue the struggle against the Americans "until Palestine is free" and "as long as our brothers are suffering inside the jails of the tyrants."

The taped footage ends with a brief mention of the rewards in heaven for all martyrs including "adorned virgins" in waiting, a reference to the benefits for Islamic martyrs promised in some Islamic texts.