CAIRO, Egypt – Al-Qaida linked insurgents killed three American soldiers after capturing them last month in Iraq, according to a militant video released Monday that claimed to show footage of the ambush. The video offered no proof for its claims.
The clip, which was made available to The Associated Press by the Washington-based SITE Institute, showed confused and jerky night battle scenes, and later offered close-ups of two identification cards. It did not show the soldiers.
“The Americans sent 4,000 soldiers looking for them,” said an unidentified voice on the video, which featured the logo of the media production house of the Islamic State of Iraq. “They were alive and then dead.”
The body of one of the soldiers was found in Iraq’s Euphrates River, but the other two remain missing. Family friends of the missing men said the U.S. military briefed relatives about the video over the weekend.
The U.S. military insisted the search for the two missing soldiers would continue.
“We condemn the tactics used by these terrorists, and are using all means available to pursue those responsible,” said Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner, the chief military spokesman in Baghdad. “We continue to search and hope that our two missing soldiers will be found alive and in good health. ”
The video offered no proof for its claims that the soldiers had been killed and buried. The voiceover blamed their deaths on “the American Army and their leaders, who do not care for the feelings of the soldiers’ mothers.”
“And as you refused to deliver the bodies of our killed people, we will not deliver the bodies of your dead, and their end will be beneath the ground, Allah willing,” the voice said.
A body found May 23 in the Euphrates River was identified by the U.S. military as Pfc. Joseph Anzack Jr., 20, of Torrance, Calif. The missing soldiers have been identified as Spc. Alex R. Jimenez, 25, of Lawrence, Mass., and of Pvt. Byron W. Fouty, 19, of Waterford, Mich.
The three vanished after their combat team was ambushed May 12 about 20 miles outside Baghdad. Five others, including an Iraqi, were killed in the ambush, subsequently claimed by al-Qaida.
The attack triggered a massive search in the area south of Baghdad known as the “triangle of death” for the rampant insurgent activity there.
Gordon Dibler, Fouty’s stepfather, said he was holding out hope for the soldiers’ safe return: “We’re praying, and so far, we don’t know for certain that they aren’t alive.”
At the end of the 10-minute 41-second video, the identification cards of the two missing soldiers were shown, with the headline: “Bush is the reason of the loss of your POWs” written on the screen above the cards. SITE, an organization that monitors terrorist groups, did not say how it obtained the video. A card belonging to Anzack was not shown.
Along with the identification cards, the footage also showed credit cards, American and Iraqi money and other personal items the militants called “booty.”
Bergner, the U.S. spokesman, said the footage “doesn’t appear to contain any definitive evidence indicating the status of our missing soldiers.”
The video also showed footage, apparently taken before the ambush, of three masked men standing around a stand displaying a sketch of the area, mapping out the attack plan. One of the three men, who were all dressed in black, talked to the camera and pointed to the sketch. Another stood by him carrying a gun.
“I have urged you to bring me American prisoners,” said the man, whose name was not given but was identified as one of the militant group’s leaders.
A Islamic Web site that commonly posts videos from militant groups including the Islamic State of Iraq said in a banner headline that it would show the video within hours, but the video has not yet appeared.
After the soldiers disappeared, the Islamic State of Iraq issued Web statements warning the Americans to call off the hunt “if you want their safety.”