A previously unknown group on Monday warned foreigners in Basra — especially Americans, Britons and Kuwaitis — that they will be targeted for kidnapping and assassination.
The warning was made in a videotape from the Al-Taff Martyrs Brigade (search) broadcast by Al-Jazeera television, an Arabic language satellite television station based in Qatar. The statement was read by a masked man flanked by armed men, their faces also covered.
"The Al-Taff Martyrs Brigades announce that all workers in the foreign and Arab companies in Basra, particularly the Kuwaiti companies, are target for abduction and killing," the statement said.
"We warn them strongly against walking the streets of Basra. For us, they are same as the Americans, the British and their loyalists. There is no difference between any of them."
Al-Taff refers to the 7th century battle near Karbala in which Imam Hussein (search), grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, and his followers were massacred by the Umayyads (search), their rivals for leadership of the Muslim community.
Shiite Muslims, who form the majority of Iraq's 25 million people, revere Imam Hussein.
U.S. forces are currently facing fighters loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr (search) in Karbala and other southern cities. Over the weekend, al-Sadr's fighters clashed with British troops in Basra, Iraq's second largest city.