BAGHDAD, Iraq – A Jordanian militant with links to Al Qaeda (search) claimed responsibility on Monday for homicide boat attacks against Persian Gulf oil terminals that killed three Americans and disabled Iraq's biggest terminal for more than 24 hours.
The claim by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (search) came on an Islamist Web site that often carries statements said to be from Al Qaeda and other militant groups.
"Our brothers in their sea craft targeted the oil platforms," the statement said in Arabic.
The bombings, using boats packed with explosives, resembled the 2000 attack on the USS Cole (search) off Yemen that killed 17 sailors, as well as a 2002 attack against a French tanker off Yemen that killed one crewmember.
"Based on what their brothers, the lions of Al Qaeda, did against the destroyer USS Cole in the Gulf of Aden, they recalled this attack, determined to strike the sensitive points of the infidels' economy," the statement said.
It was signed Abu Musab al-Zarawi, "emir (leader) of the Jamaat al-Tawhid wa'l-Jihad," or Unity and Jihad Group.
There was no way to verify the claim, which would be the first by al-Zarqawi for any attack in Iraq. U.S. officials say al-Zarqawi may be behind a number of homicide bombings in the country, aimed in particular at Shiite Muslims.
The attacks on Saturday evening killed two U.S. Navy sailors and a Coast Guardsman who were trying to intercept one of the three boats as they neared the terminals, then detonated. One of the terminals, Khawr al-Amawya, was knocked out of commission for several hours.
The largest terminal, Al-Basra, did not resume loading tankers until Sunday night.
In all, more than 1 million barrels of oil could not be loaded during the shutdown.