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Web site links al-Zarqawi to Iraq oil attacks


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The Bush administration has said Abu Musab al-Zarqawi fled Afghanistan for medical treatment in Iraq.

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(CNN) -- A Web site posted a statement Monday attributed to Osama bin Laden associate Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, claiming responsibility for deadly weekend suicide attacks on two oil terminals in southern Iraq.

Two U.S. Navy sailors and a member of the Coast Guard died in a blast Saturday night when they attempted to board an explosive-laden boat off Basra, near the Khawr Al Amaya oil terminal, according to the Navy. Two other boats exploded harmlessly near the Basra oil terminal, which handles most of Iraq's oil exports.

The statement compared the attacks to the 2000 bombing of the American destroyer USS Cole in Yemen.

That attack -- also by a boat carrying explosives -- killed 17 crewmembers and wounded 39. Al Qaeda is suspected in the USS Cole bombing.

The Web site posting about al-Zarqawi also said Saturday's attack off Basra was meant "to hit the economies of the nations of atheism, which came to raise the crusaders' flag in the Muslim land."

The statement threatens more attacks by land, sea and air "until victory or defeat."

There was no way to independently verify the statement's authenticity.

Al-Zarqawi has claimed credit for a score of attacks on coalition forces, including the August 19 bombing of U.N. headquarters in Baghdad that killed 23 civilians, one of whom was the U.N.'s chief envoy to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello.

Targets al-Zarqawi claimed responsibility for attacking include "the coalition forces in Karbala, the Italians in Nasiriya, the American forces in the Al-Khaldiya Bridge, the American intelligence in the Al-Shahine Hotel, the CPA in Baghdad, the CIA in the Al-Rashid Hotel, and the Polish military in Al-Hilla."

Earlier this month, an audio tape claiming to be of al-Zarqawi was published on a Web site. The tape claimed responsibility for the attacks and Middle Eastern intelligence sources familiar with al-Zarqawi said that the tape was "100 percent genuine." (Full story)

Al-Zarqawi, an associate of Osama bin Laden, had been named by the Bush administration as an al Qaeda member who fled to Iraq from Afghanistan in May 2002 for medical treatment and then stayed to organize terror plots. He came to Iraq with about two dozen al Qaeda terrorists, according to the administration.

Before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, President Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell and other administration officials pointed to intelligence that they said suggested al-Zarqawi had had his leg amputated in Baghdad.


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